By Robert Evans
GENEVA (Reuters) Higgs boson found - Physicists who last summer triumphantly announced the discovery of a new particle but held back from saying what it was, declared on Thursday there was now little doubt it was the long-sought Higgs boson.
Latest analysis of data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator, where the boson was spotted as a bump on a graph early in 2012, "strongly indicates" it is the Higgs, said CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.
Physicists believe the boson and its linked energy field were vital in the formation of the universe after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago by bringing flying particles together to make stars, planets and eventually humans - giving mass to matter, in the scientific jargon.
The particle and the field, named for British physicist Peter Higgs who predicted their existence 50 years ago, are also the last major missing elements in what scientists call the Standard Model of how the cosmos works at the very basic level.
But the CERN statement stopped short of claiming a discovery - which would clear the way to Nobel prizes for scientists linked to the project - and floated the idea that this might be an exotic "super-Higgs" offering a key to new worlds of physics.
"It remains an open question whether this is the Higgs boson of the Standard Model ... or possibly the lightest of several bosons predicted in some theories that go beyond the Standard Model," said CERN, a large complex on the edge of Geneva.
"Finding the answer to this question will take time."
Although some CERN physicists privately expressed irritation at the continuing refusal to - as one said - "call a Higgs a Higgs", others argued that this could only come when the evidence was all totally irrefutable.
If it is not what one CERN-watching blogger has dubbed a "common or garden Higgs" but something more complex, vistas into worlds of supersymmetry, string theory, multiple dimensions and even parallel universes could begin to unfold.
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