UK scientists celebrate the first observation of the long-sought decay of the Higgs boson
31 Aug 2018



UK particle physicists are celebrating that the ATLAS Collaboration experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has – at long last – observed the Higgs boson decaying into a pair of bottom (b) quarks.

Detection of a candidate event display in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN

​​​​A candidate event display for the production of a Higgs boson decaying to two b-quarks (blue cones), in association with a W boson decaying to a muon (red) and a neutrino. The neutrino leaves the detector unseen, and is reconstructed through the missing transverse energy (dashed line).

(Credit: ATLAS Collaboration/CERN)​

This elusive interaction is predicted to make up almost 60% of the Higgs boson decays. It has taken over seven years to accomplish this observation but it could ultimately provide the first hints of new physics beyond our current theories.

“ATLAS is proud to announce the observation of this important and challenging Higgs boson decay," says Professor Karl Jakobs, ATLAS Spokesperson. “While the result is certainly a confirmation of the Standard Model, it is equally a triumph for our analysis teams. During the early preparations of the LHC, there were doubts on whether this observation could be achieved. Our success is thanks to the excellent performance of the LHC and the ATLAS detector, and the application of highly sophisticated analysis techniques to our large dataset."

UK groups have played critical roles in the analysis of the data over the past seven years. This includes work on the key detector elements, reconstruction algorithms, data collection and cutting-edge analysis techniques…all of which has culminated in this historic achievement that marks a crucial step forward in our understanding of the Higgs boson.

Scientists at STFC's Scientific Computing Department (SCD) are excited to be part of this momentous achievement. SCD hosts and manages the Tier-1 LHC data site at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL).  The Tier -1 is part of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid, a global network of computers and software that is essential to processing the masses of data recorded by all of the LHC's detectors.

When the LHC is in operation there are over 40 million collisions occurring per second, all of which trigger data.  This data is transferred between CERN and RAL at a rate of 30 Gb per second and is stored on disks to enable the physicists to run their analyses.

​For more information about the first observation see the full STFC press release


Contact: O'Sullivan, Marion (STFC,RAL,SC)