According to Marco Taoso of CERN and colleagues, the famed Higgs could be leaving its imprint in the light produced in collisions of dark matter, the substance believed by most scientists to make up the vast majority of the universe's mass. In fact, the researchers think we could be seeing the tell-tale spectral signatures of Higgs in this way within a year - so sooner, potentially, than the LHC unscrambles data on the elusive particle.
The LHC was built to search for a wealth of new physics but its foremost target has always been the Higgs. The only fundamental particle in the Standard Model yet to be discovered, the Higgs - or more precisely its associated field - is supposed to "stick" to other particles and thus give them the property of mass. Many particle physicists have been hoping that the LHC's expected collision energies of 14 TeV will be powerful enough to finally unearth the Higgs, and in doing so wrap up the Standard Model.
However, Taoso's group, which includes members at Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University in Illinois, US, thinks experiments searching for traces of dark matter might get there first. Dark matter is thought to make up more than 80% of the matter in the universe but it does not interact via electromagnetism so its presence has only been inferred from its gravitational effects on normal matter.
Most models of the universe suggest that dark matter was more prevalent in the distant past, and this has led physicists to assume that dark-matter particles have been annihilating one another through collisions. Although dark matter itself doesn't interact with light (hence being "dark"), such an annihilation could generate a photon and another particle, possibly the Higgs.
The researchers claim that detecting this Higgs would be a matter of spotting the partner photon with an energy reflecting the Higgs's mass. If their calculations are correct, gamma-ray telescopes like Fermi might see the first evidence within a year.