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Higgs Boson detected at LHC is massive. It has high relativistic mass means it has non-zero rest mass.

Higgs Boson gives other things rest mass. But, how does it get rest mass by itself?


marked as duplicate by Qmechanic Jul 6 '14 at 15:44

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    $\begingroup$ The Higgs boson can interact with itself. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elementary_particle_interactions.svg . Additionally (not sure about this), the Higgs field sort of has two parts--one is the Higgs boson, and one is an oscillation in the field that is the mass mechanism. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Jul 5 '12 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth Put that as answer... $\endgroup$ – Schrödinger's Cat Jul 5 '12 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ I'm really not sure about it, and I don't know enough to put it as an answer. Ping me again if nobody else answers :) $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Jul 5 '12 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Manishearth (3 comments up) you could sort of say that's true, but the second part would be the vacuum expectation value, not an oscillation. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jul 5 '12 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate: physics.stackexchange.com/q/30732/2451 $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Jan 5 '13 at 15:19

Forget about relativistic mass; it's an outdated and, in this case, irrelevant concept. The Higgs boson has a rest mass of about $125\ \mathrm{GeV}/c^2$ assuming it is in fact what the LHC has found.

Anyway, I would say that the Higgs boson does not actually give other particles mass directly; instead, it's a side effect of the mechanism by which those other particles become massive. It just naturally turns out that the particle produced by this mechanism has to be a massive particle itself.

Or to put it another way, the Higgs field would not be able to give other particles mass if it were not itself massive. Take a look at the "Mexican hat" potential shown in this site's logo. The bump in the middle arises because the Higgs field has an associated mass, the mass of the Higgs boson. That bump pushes the "natural" state of the Higgs field off center, which means the field has a nonzero "default" value, called the vacuum expectation value. It's that vacuum expectation value that gives other particles mass. Without the bump, the minimum of the potential would be in the center, which means the vacuum expectation value of the Higgs field would be zero, which in turn would render it incapable of giving other particles mass.

I'll refer you to another answer of mine for some of the mathematical detail.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you please link me to official CERN source which says the value was "Rest" mass? $\endgroup$ – Schrödinger's Cat Jul 5 '12 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Sachin: as far as I know (not a quantum field-theorist), QFT always assumes 'rest mass'/'invariant mass' $\endgroup$ – Christoph Jul 5 '12 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, the $m$ in the equations of quantum field theory is rest mass. You do not need a source from CERN to tell you that; check a good QFT textbook. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jul 5 '12 at 18:27

You have to read a bit about the Higgs mechanism.

In particle physics, the Higgs mechanism (also called the Brout–Englert–Higgs mechanism, Englert–Brout–Higgs–Guralnik–Hagen–Kibble mechanism,1 and Anderson–Higgs mechanism) is the process that gives mass to elementary particles. The particles gain mass by interacting with the Higgs field that permeates all space.


The simplest implementation of the mechanism adds an extra Higgs field to the gauge theory. The spontaneous symmetry breaking of the underlying local symmetry triggers conversion of components of this Higgs field to Goldstone bosons which interact with (at least some of) the other fields in the theory, so as to produce mass terms for (at least some of) the gauge bosons. This mechanism may also leave behind elementary scalar (spin-0) particles, known as Higgs bosons.

*This left over spin 0 is the Higgs * that we hope has been discovered, if nature follows the simplest higgs mechanism implementation. It acquires its mass by the Higgs mechanism too. That is why the scientists are careful to state that more work is needed to establish what type of Higgs particle this is. ............

The Higgs mechanism was incorporated into moder particle physics by Steven Weinberg and Abdus Salam, and is an essential part of the standard model.

In the standard model, at temperatures high enough so that electroweak symmetry is unbroken, all elementary particles are massless. At a critical temperature the Higgs field becomes tachyonic, the symmetry is spontaneously broken by condensation, and the W and Z bosons acquire masses. (EWSB, ElectroWeak Symmetry Breaking, is an abbreviation used for this.)

Fermions, such as the leptons and quarks in the Standard Model, can also acquire mass as a result of their interaction with the Higgs field, but not in the same way as the gauge bosons.



The mass of the Higgs boson is a free parameter of the standard model and not (only) due to the interactions with a non-zero Higgs field.

If the Higgs field were zero, the standard model predicts four massive Higgs bosons, which are the only massive particles. In case of a non-zero Higgs field, only one of them gains some extra mass via Higgs field interactions and becomes 'the' Higgs boson (assuming that there is only one), while the remaining Higgs bosons mix with Isospin and Hypercharge gauge bosons to form the electroweak gauge bosons.

For further information, see this article by Matt Strassler.


The Higgs gives the W's, Z's, quarks, leptons, and (probably) the neutrinos a mass, but it doesn't have hardly anything to do with the proton mass, it only contributes the tiny amount roughly equal to the proton neutron mass difference. Its own mass is fundamental parameter in the standard model, and the natural value is the Planck mass.

Physicists call the question of why the Higgs is so much lighter than the Planck mass "The Heirarchy problem".

  • $\begingroup$ If it gives quarks mass, how couldn't protons get mass as they are made up of quarks? $\endgroup$ – Schrödinger's Cat Jul 5 '12 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ @SachinShekhar: It gives about 1% of the proton mass, the rest is confinement processes. The quarks in the proton are not slow, it's not like an H atom. Most of the mass of the proton is glue and quark kinetic energy. The quark rest-mass is a 1% correction. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Jul 5 '12 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Can we take quark kinetic energy as REST mass? Isn't it a relativistic ju-ju? $\endgroup$ – Schrödinger's Cat Jul 5 '12 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ @SachinShekhar: The quark kinetic energy is a contribution to the rest mass when the total momentum of everything adds up to zero all together. This type of common confusion is why I think it is important to ignore Einstein and follow Tolman and use the term "relativistic mass" as a synonym for energy, and use the term "rest mass" for rest mass. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Jul 5 '12 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Ron: doesn't the kinectic energy of the quarks always contribute to the 'rest mass' of the hadron? the (invariant) mass of a system is given by $E^2 - p^2$ in every frame $\endgroup$ – Christoph Jul 5 '12 at 16:42

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