Muon g−2 collaboration prepares for first results

11 September 2019
The muon g−2 collaboration

The annual “g-2 physics week”, which took place on Elba Island in Italy from 27 May to 1 June, saw almost 100 physicists discuss the latest progress at the muon g−2 experiment at Fermilab. The muon magnetic anomaly, aμ, is one of the few cases where there is a hint of a discrepancy between a Standard Model (SM) prediction and an experimental measurement. Almost 20 years ago, in a sequence of increasingly precise measurements, the E821 collaboration at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) determined aμ = (g–2)/2 with a relative precision of 0.54 parts per million (ppm), providing a rigorous test of the SM. Impressive as it was, the result was limited by statistical uncertainties.

A new muon g−2 experiment currently taking data at Fermilab, called E989, aims to improve the experimental error on aμ by a factor of four. The collaboration took its first dataset in 2018, integrating 40% more statistics than the BNL experiment, and is now coming to the end of a second run that will yield a combined dataset more than three times larger.

A thorough review of the many analysis efforts during the first data run has been conducted. The muon magnetic anomaly is determined from the ratio of the muon and proton precession frequencies in the same magnetic field. The ultimate aim of experiment E989 is to measure both of these frequencies with a precision of 0.1 ppm by employing techniques and expertise from particle-physics experimentation (straw tracking detectors and calorimetetry), nuclear physics (nuclear magnetic resonance) and accelerator science. These frequencies are independently measured by several analysis groups with different methodologies and different susceptibilities to systematic effects.

A recent relative unblinding of a subset of the data with a statistical precision of 1.3 ppm showed excellent agreement across the analyses in both frequencies. The absolute values of the two frequencies are still subject to a ~25 ppm hardware blinding offset, so no physics conclusion can yet be drawn. But the exercise has shown that the collaboration is well on the way to publishing its first result with a precision better than E821 towards the end of the year.

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