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Last stop for the Higgs Couplings workshop

17 October 2019
ATLAS Event Display: Higgs boson coupling to top quark in diphoton channel
ATLAS and CMS data are driving down uncertainties on the Higgs couplings. Credit: ATLAS-PHOTO-2019-016-3

Higgs-boson measurements are entering the precision regime, with Higgs couplings to gauge bosons now measured to better than 10% precision, and its decays to third-generation fermions measured to better than 20%. These and other recent experimental and theoretical results were the focus of discussions at the eighth international Higgs Couplings workshop, held in Oxford from 30 September to 4 October 2019. Making its final appearance with this moniker (next year it will be rebranded as Higgs 2020), the conference programme comprised 38 plenary and 46 parallel talks attended by 120 participants.

The first two days of the conference reviewed Higgs measurements, including a new ATLAS measurement of ttH production using Higgs boson decays to leptons, and a differential measurement of Higgs boson production in its decays to W-boson pairs using all of the CMS data from Run 2. These measurements showed continuing progress in coupling measurements, but the highlight of the precision presentations was a new determination of the Higgs boson mass from CMS using its decays to two photons. Combining this result with previous CMS measurements gives a Higgs boson mass of 125.35 ± 0.15 GeV/c2, corresponding to an impressive relative precision of 0.12%. From the theory side, the challenges of keeping up with experimental precision were discussed. For example, the Higgs boson production cross section is calculated to the highest order of any observable in perturbative QCD, and yet it must be predicted even more precisely to match the expected experimental precision of the HL-LHC.

ATLAS presented an updated self-coupling constraint

One of the highest priority targets of the HL-LHC is the measurement of the self-coupling of the Higgs boson, which is expected to be determined to 50% precision. This determination is based on double-Higgs production, to which the self-coupling contributes when a virtual Higgs boson splits into two Higgs bosons. ATLAS and CMS have performed extensive searches for two-Higgs production using data from 2016, and at the conference ATLAS presented an updated self-coupling constraint using a combination of single- and double-Higgs measurements and searches.  Allowing only the self-coupling to be modified by a factor 𝜅λ in the loop corrections yields a constraint on the Higgs self-coupling of –2.3 < 𝜅λ < 10.3 times the Standard Model prediction at 95% confidence.

The theoretical programme of the conference included an overview of the broader context for Higgs physics, covering the possibility of generating the observed matter-antimatter asymmetry through a first- order electroweak phase transition, as well as possibilities for generating the Yukawa coupling matrices. In the so-called electroweak baryogenesis scenario, the cooling universe developed bubbles of broken electroweak symmetry with asymmetric matter-antimatter interactions at the boundaries, with sphalerons in the electroweak-symmetric space converting the resulting matter asymmetry into a baryon asymmetry. The matter-asymmetric interactions could have arisen through Higgs boson couplings to fermions or gauge bosons, or through its self-couplings. In the latter case the source could be an additional electroweak singlet or doublet modifying the Higgs potential.

The broader interpretation of Higgs boson measurements and searches was discussed both in the case of specific models and in the Standard Model effective field theory, where new particles appear at significantly higher masses (~1 TeV/c2 or more). The calculations in the effective field theory continue to advance, adding higher orders in QCD to more electroweak processes, and an analytical determination of the dependence of the Higgs decay width on the theory parameters. Constraints on the number and values of these parameters also continue to improve through an expanded use of input measurements.

The conference wrapped up with a look into the crystal ball of future detectors and colliders, with a sobering yet inspirational account of detector requirements at the next generation of colliders. To solve the daunting challenges, the audience was encouraged to be creative and explore new technologies, which will likely be needed to succeed. Various collider scenarios were also presented in the context of the European Strategy update, which will wrap up early next year.

The newly minted Higgs conference will be held in late October or early November of 2020 in Stonybrook, New York.

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