Cern has announced the discovery of a new particle by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that is almost certainly the long-sought for Higgs boson.
The development represents a major breakthrough in scientists attempts to add more understanding to our knowledge of matter that forms the universe.
Scientists at the research facility have been closing in on the particle for some time, repeatedly issuing findings narrowing down their field of search for the particle, and they confirmed on Wednesday they are 99.999 per cent confident the new particle is the Higgs.
It was found in the mass region of between 125-126 gigaelectron volts (GeV), as had been previously hypothesised, although the organisation said further tests would be carried out to verify the findings.
"The outstanding performance of the LHC and ATLAS and the huge efforts of many people have brought us to this exciting stage, but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication," said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti.
Despite the need for scientific rigour to validate the results, Joe Incandela, an experiment spokesperson on the CMS experiment at Cern, underlined the significance of the findings.
"The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal [99.999 per cent] at around 125 GeV we're seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it's the heaviest boson ever found," he said.
"The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks."
The organisation will now carry out further tests within the LHC to build up a large set of data on the initial results, which will help characterise the new particle and confirm whether it is indeed the Higgs. These results are expected before the end of the year.
The new particle, if proven to be the Higgs, will represent a milestone in scientists continuing work to understand more about the universe and its foundations.
"We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature," said director general of Cern, Rolf Heuer.
"The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle's properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe."
Cern cautioned, however, that it could be that the new particle they have observed is something entirely unrelated to the Higgs. If that is the case, Cern said it may help them understand more about the 96 per cent of the universe that remains a mystery.
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