Exciting hints of Higgs boson in the Tevatron data

If the entire Tevatron Run II program was repeated a hundred times and the Higgs boson did not exist, then the observed limit at each mass point would fall within the green band 68 times and within the yellow band 95 times.

The decades long hunt for the Higgs boson might be soon over. The first results using the Tevatron’s full data set show tantalizing hints of what the future might bring. The Higgs boson is the only fundamental particle predicted by the Standard Model that has not been observed.

Finding the Higgs boson would validate a key aspect of the Standard Model – the use of the Higgs mechanism to generate the masses of the weak force carriers. The Higgs field would also explain why quarks and charged leptons have mass. A sensitive search that rules out the existence of the Higgs boson would indicate that new physics must exist to explain particle masses and may herald the start of an exciting era of discovery. Either result from the search for the Higgs boson, observation or exclusion, will mark a turning point in the road for the field of high energy physics.

The Standard Model does not predict the mass of the Higgs boson, but does dictate its behavior for a given mass. While the Higgs boson favors decaying into a pair of b quarks below a mass of 135 GeV/c2 and a pair of W bosons above that mass, CDF and DZero scientists exploit all possible decay modes in their search. Each search channel is optimized to discriminate its type of Higgs boson candidate events from its particular combination of backgrounds.

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—Mike Cooke and Ben Kilminster

The CDF and DZero collaborations thank AD, PPD and CD for the important fundamental contributions they have made to our physics program and we acknowledge support from many national and international funding agencies, especially the U.S. DOE and the NSF.