Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

If the Higgs field gives mass to particles, and the Higgs boson itself has mass, does this mean there is some kind of self-interaction?

Also, does the Higgs Boson have zero rest mass and so move at light-speed?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Most of the popular science TV programmes and magazine articles give entirely the wrong idea about how the Higgs mechanism works. They tend to give the impression that there is a single Higgs boson that (a) causes particles masses and (b) will be found around 125GeV by the LHC.

The mass is generated by the Higgs field. See the Wikipedia article on the Higgs mechanism for details. To (over)simplify, the Higgs field has four degrees of freedom, three of which interact with the W and Z bosons and generate masses. The remaining degree of freedom is what we see as the 125Gev Higgs boson.

In a sense, the Higgs boson that the LHC is about to discover is just what's left over after the Higgs field has done it's work. The Higgs boson gets its mass from the Higgs mechanism just like the W and Z bosons: it's not the origin of the particle masses.

The Higgs boson doesn't have zero rest mass.

A quick footnote:

Matt Strassler's blog has an excellent article about this. The Higgs mass can be written as an interaction with the Higgs field just like e.g. the W boson. However Matt Strassler makes the point that this is a coincidence rather than anything fundamental and unlike the W and Z the Higgs boson could have a non-zero mass even if the Higgs field was zero everywhere.

share|improve this answer
    
Great summary but don't forget the fermions! –  Alfred Centauri Jun 25 '12 at 14:10
    
Are you saying that only the fourth degree of freedom is being quantized? I understand particles derived from fields arise from the quantization of the field. –  Mozibur Ullah Jun 25 '12 at 16:44
add comment

does this mean there is some kind of self-interaction

Yes, the Higgs field is self-interacting and, to the extent I understand it, it is this self-interaction and particularly, its form, that allows the Higgs field to "condense" by giving the lowest energy states of the field a non-zero expectation value. But the Higgs fields have electroweak charge.

So, essentially, space, when the Higgs field is in a ground state, is an electroweak superconductor that "breaks" ("hides", "screens") the electroweak symmetry down to the observed electromagnetic symmetry.

In addition to the electroweak gauge field interactions with the Higgs field, the fermion (matter) fields also couple to the Higgs fields via a so-called Yukawa interaction which is, in The Standard Model, the origin of matter's mass.

share|improve this answer
add comment

protected by Qmechanic Jan 21 '13 at 8:02

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.