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After a decade of analysis, physicists were able to measure the mass of the W boson most accurately – which may change physics as we know it. According to the authors, their measurement is very different from predictions based on the Standard Model.
The Standard Model of particle physics was developed in the 1970s: it explains how particles interact and fundamental forces work. It doesn’t cover everything – it doesn’t explain dark matter or even gravity. But now the authors of the new paper have studied the W boson well and want to revise the General Model.
The mass of the particle can be calculated through its relation to other particles in the Standard Model. Further this predicted mass can be compared with the actual measurements made in the collider. It turns out that the two values diverge greatly, in the case of the W boson.
W bosons are elementary particles that carry a weak force, and affect nuclear processes, such as those occurring in the Sun. According to the Standard Model, their mass is related to the mass of the Higgs boson and the mass of the subatomic particle, the top quark.
In the new study, nearly 400 scientists, in collaboration with Fermilab (CDF), spent ten years studying 4.2 million potential candidates for W bosons. They were searched based on 26 years of data from the Tevatron collider. As a result, the team was able to calculate the mass of the W boson with an accuracy of 0.01%.
According to their calculations, the W boson has a mass of 80,433.5 mega electronvolts (MeV) with an uncertainty of only ± 9.4 MeV. This is within the range of some previous measurements, but much larger than predicted by the Standard Model. The mass according to it is 80,357 MeV, ± 6 MeV.
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