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How exactly does the Higgs field and boson interact with particles?

  1. Nov 29, 2012 #1
    Hi guys, I've read up things on the Higgs field and boson, including the analogy provided by the CERN website. However, what I don't understand is what exactly happens as the Higgs field interact with particles. And for particles, do they mean elementary ones like quarks? Or do they mean more established particles like protons? Also, for the Higgs field, I am guessing that the Higgs boson passes through these particles in the Higgs field (hence the interaction) and this attract nearby particles (elementary or not, I'm not sure) together which gives mass. However, if it is assumed that by gauge symmetry, all particles have no mass, then how do these particles when congregating together give mass? Does the Higgs boson continue to stay within the particles or does it simply pass by and decay quickly into W particles? I couldn't find any answers to my queries online so I'm trying my luck here. Please help!! I think I have a very messed up understanding of the Higgs boson and field, and all the more I want to clarify it!! Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2012 #2
    The Higgs field carries hypercharge and weak isospin. Therefore, it is coupled to these gauge fields through so called minimal coupling.

    Furthermore, there is a Yukawa couping with the fermions (both leptons and quarks).

    Once the Higgs field condenses into a non-zero vacuum expectation value (VEV), it spontaneously breaks the electroweak symmetry, giving mass to the weak vector bosons, but leaving the photon massless.

    Then, the Yukawa interaction (which coupled left- to right-handed fields) gives mass to the fermions proportional to the coupling strength and the VEV of the Higgs field.
  4. Nov 29, 2012 #3


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    SecretSnow, I'm guessing that the analogy you've seen is the "molasses" one, in which the Higgs field allegedly gives mass to particles by slowing them down. Pretty far from the truth. :uhh:

    First, be careful to distinguish the Higgs field from the Higgs boson. The Higgs field is a scalar field uniform in time and space, and its value is a universal property of our current vacuum state. The Higgs boson is an excitation of the Higgs field. The field is what's involved in particle masses. The boson is essentially a bystander, but the target of experiments because its existence signals the Higgs field's existence.
    The particles that interact with Higgs are the six leptons, the six quarks (18, if you count color), and the W and Z gauge bosons. Basically all the known elementary particles except for the eight gluons.
    Much simpler than that. The interaction between the particle and the Higgs field raises its energy - that's all. In the particle's rest frame this energy is seen as a rest mass. The interaction energy is the value of the Higgs field times a coupling constant. Present theory does not explain the coupling constant, or why it is different for each type of particle.
  5. Dec 1, 2012 #4
    What is meant by the excitation of the Higgs field? I presume that you mean the field has several bumps or raise on it where the Higgs boson can be found? And how does the interaction occur to give energy? Does the Higgs boson collide onto the particles or simply pass through them to raise their energy? Do Higgs boson exist every and is moving just like photons (which I think is unlikely since they can decay) or are they stationary in the field?
  6. Dec 1, 2012 #5


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    In our current understanding, the basic objects that the universe is made of are fields. (Quantum fields.) There is a different field corresponding to each kind of particle - there's an electron field, a neutrino field, and so on. The particle gets the publicity, but it's the field behind it that's more fundamental.

    The field has a ground state, or vacuum state, which is its state of lowest energy. The field's excitations, or states of higher energy, are produced when one or more of its particles are created. The particles that correspond to the electromagnetic field are photons. The particles that correspond to the Higgs field are called Higgs bosons.

    Higgs bosons have every property you'd expect a particle to have. They have mass (= 125 GeV) and spin (= 0, presumably) They move about and carry energy and momentum with them. They happen to have a rather short lifetime, 10-24 sec, but this is not very unusual. They play no role whatsoever in the mass-giving interaction that the Higgs field has with other particles. No collisions with Higgs bosons are involved.

    Just as my energy is affected by the fact that I live in a gravitational field - just as the energy of a charge is affected by its being in an electromagnetic field - the rest energy of an electron, say, is affected by being in the universal Higgs field. Again no collision involved, it is simply the universal environment in which the electron finds itself that does the job.
  7. Dec 2, 2012 #6
    Oh!! I think I'm getting there already!!! Do you have any links to any diagrams or videos that show a particle as an excitation of its field? I'm still trying to visualize it. If this is the case, is the particle attached to the field physically or is it an entity on its own and detached?

    Most importantly, how does particles like photons correspond to their own fields like the electromagnetic field? What is that kind of interaction? Or is the entire field the photon itself? What exactly happens when the Higgs field interact with the electron to give it its mass? Thanks a lot!!!
  8. Dec 2, 2012 #7
    photons appear as quanta of electromagnetic field after quantizing electromagnetic field.usual method of quantization for this corresponds to using a commutation relation for creation and annihilation operator.
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