The Large Hadron Collider, now operating at near-peak luminosity in its second operational phase, may be the most powerful particle collider ever built and it may smash together billions of protons per second like it’s not even a thing, but the latest hint of a new particle comes courtesy of the predecessor to the LHC’s predecessor.
By Michael Byrne | MOTHERBOARD
This is according to a paper posted Friday to the arXiv preprint server by a physicist named Arno Heister who had worked on the ALEPH experiment at the Large Electron-Positron collider (LEP), which formerly occupied the LHC’s 27-kilometer tunnel.
The LEP collider was constructed in 1989 and later upgraded (in 1995) to the LEP II. It has several claims to fame, including further refinements to the masses of the W and Z bosons and a would-be hint of the Higgs boson. Surely the project’s resulting data has been analyzed and analyzed again by now, but Heister offers an intriguing reconsideration—one that yields a small anomalous signal in the 30 GeV mass range. Is this data bump real, or is it just a statistical artifact?
Bumps like this are generally how new particles are found in collision experiments. Two particles are smashed together at extreme energies and the result is an energetic shower of particle byproducts; you might imagine pairs of wine glasses impacting dead-on at bullet speeds. Statistics describing these post-collision particle showers are collected over time and then analyzed for unknown quantities.