ZZ diboson pro­duc­tion observed for first time at Tevatron

(Pic­tured — The Fer­milab accel­er­ator com­plex in Batavia, IL. Photo cour­tesy of Fermilab.)

Boston – August 4, 2008 – Darien Wood, Ph.D., Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Physics at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, and other researchers from North­eastern have played inte­gral roles in the recent dis­covery of the pro­duc­tion of pairs of Z bosons, or ZZ dibosons, at the Teva­tron par­ticle accel­er­ator. As the co-​​leader of the DZero project, Wood led a team of sci­en­tists who recently announced the obser­va­tion of pre­vi­ously unob­serv­able ZZ diboson par­ti­cles. The prop­er­ties of the ZZ diboson make its dis­covery a nec­es­sary pre­cursor to deter­mining whether the Higgs boson does indeed exist. The Higgs boson is the only hypo­thet­ical par­ticle in the Stan­dard Model of par­ticle physics that has not yet been observed.

DZero is an inter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion of 600 sci­en­tists from 90 insti­tu­tions in 18 coun­tries who con­duct physics research at Teva­tron, cur­rently the world’s highest energy par­ticle accel­er­ator. The exper­i­ments explore matter by cre­ating an envi­ron­ment where they can observe inter­ac­tions of pro­tons and antipro­tons, which they hope will lead to a better under­standing of the fun­da­men­tals of matter and our uni­verse. Teva­tron is located in Batavia, IL at the Fermi National Accel­er­ator Lab­o­ra­tory, a United States Depart­ment of Energy laboratory.

The sci­en­tists set out to examine par­ticle col­li­sions at high ener­gies to see what inter­ac­tions occur. The sci­en­tists devel­oped tools to detect the pres­ence of ZZ dibosons, an extremely rare occur­rence, from their decays into elec­trons, muons, and neu­trinos. Despite being dif­fi­cult to detect, the team was able to observe the ZZ dibosons in three proton-​​antiproton col­li­sions out of more than 200 trillion.

The final analysis, accom­plished by a team of 11 physi­cists – five of whom are from North­eastern – brought this result to its com­ple­tion. In addi­tion to Prof. Wood, the North­eastern team included Asso­ciate Pro­fessor Emanuela Bar­beris, Ph.D., Post­doc­toral research asso­ciates Gian­luca Cer­mi­nara, Ph.D., and Gavin Hes­keth, Ph.D., and grad­uate stu­dent Gabriel Facini, all in the physics depart­ment. The other schools involved with the final analysis included SUNY – Stony Brook, the Uni­ver­sity of Man­chester, SUNY – Buf­falo and the Insti­tute of High Energy Physics, Russia.

This result is very exciting and it is one of the last step­ping stones on the route to pos­sible detec­tion of the elu­sive Higgs boson,” said Wood.

For more infor­ma­tion about Northeastern’s role in the ZZ diboson obser­va­tion, please con­tact Jenny Eriksen at (617) 373‑2802 or via email at j.​eriksen@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.