Higgs Boson May Have Stabilized Our Early Universe
The relatively recent discovery of the Higgs boson explains why particles have mass, but it may also explain the expansion of our universe in the moments after the Big Bang. Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology theorized that the theoretical mass of the Higgs boson, or so-called "God particle," may have made the difference between our universe becoming relatively ordered and stable or becoming an unstable counterpart.
"There is an intriguing connection between the world explored in particle accelerators today and the earliest moments of the existence of the Universe," said co-author Fedor Bezrukov.
According to the Big Bang theory, the universe began when all the matter contained in a single point underwent an explosion. The universe expanded exponentially for a short amount of cosmological time, and then continued to expand at a slower rate and is still expanding. The Higgs boson confirms the existence of the Higgs field, which affords particles mass through the containment of potential energy that results when particles interact with it. The Higgs field similarly interacted with gravity immediately after the Big Bang in order to accelerate the expansion of the universe. If this model of the universe is correct, then it predicts that the universe will contain curvatures in spacetime called gravitational waves. Gravitational waves have never been observed directly, but researchers using the BICEP-2 thought they may have found indirect evidence earlier this year.
These findings have been widely disputed, but Bezrukov and his colleagues argue that the distinctive mass of the Higgs boson may contribute to justifying the results. Recent experiments have shown that its mass may approach a critical mass that draws a boundary between a stable and unstable universe. If this is the case, then gravitational waves would be amplified, which could help to deter criticisms that the signal from the gravitational waves would be too faint to observe using the BICEP-2 team's methods. "The Higgs mass at the critical boundary could explain the BICEP2 result," Bezrukov said.