Some notes on the multi-muon analysis – part II November 8, 2008Posted by dorigo in news, physics, science.
Tags: anomalous muons, CDF, new physics
In this post, as I did in the former one, I discuss a self-contained topic relevant for the estimation of mundane sources of “ghost” muons, the anomalous signal recently reported by CDF in data collected in proton-antiproton collisions at 1.96 TeV, generated by the Tevatron collider in Run II. The data have been acquired by a dimuon trigger, a set of hardware modules and software algorithms capable of selecting in real time the collisions yielding two muons of low transverse momentum.
The transverse momentum of a particle is the component of its momentum in the direction orthogonal to the proton-antiproton beams. In hadronic collisions, large transverse momentum is a telling feature: the larger are transverse momenta of particles, the more violent was the interaction that generated them. In contrast, the longitudinal component of momentum is incapable of discriminating energetic collisions from soft ones, because the collisions involve quarks and gluons rather than protons and antiprotons. Quarks and gluons carry a unknown fraction of their parent’s momentum, and they generate collisions whose rest frame has a unknown, and potentially large longitudinal motion. Imagine a 100 mph truck hitting a 10mph bicycle head-on: after the collision the bicycle, and maybe a few glass pieces from a front lamp of the truck, will be found moving in the original direction of the truck, with a speed not too different from that of the truck itself. In contrast, when two 100 mph trucks hit head-on, you will be likely to find debris flying out at high speed in all directions. The transverse speed of the debris is a tale-telling sign that an energetic collision happened, while the longitudinal one is much less informative.
The reason why above I made sure you understood the importance of transverse momentum is that I am going to use that concept below, to explain what may mimic a muon signal in the CDF detector -an issue of crucial relevance to the multi-muon analysis. If you do not know what the multi-muon analysis is about, I suggest you go back to read the former post, and maybe the first one announcing the new CDF preprint. Otherwise, please stay with me.
Now, the dimuon trigger works by selecting events with two charged tracks pointing at hits in the CMU and CMP muon chambers, which are detectors located on the outside of the CDF central calorimeter -a large cylinder surrounding the interaction point, the tracker, and the solenoid which produces the axial magnetic field in which charged particles are made to bend in proportion to their transverse momentum. The dimuon trigger also applies loose requirements on the transverse momentum of the two tracks: 3 GeV or more. By comparison, the single muon trigger used by CDF to collect W and Z boson decays requires transverse momenta in excess of 18 GeV. The loose threshold of the dimuon trigger is possible because of the rarity of two independent, coincident signals in the muon chambers: a single muon trigger with a 3 GeV threshold would instead totally drown the data aquisition system.
Muons are minimum-ionizing particles, and given their momentum we know pretty well how deep they can reach inside the lead and iron which compose the calorimeters: as drivers short of gas, they gradually lose their momentum at a well-defined rate by ionizing the surrounding medium, and they eventually stop. The CMU detectors -wire chambers which indeed detect “hits”, i.e. localized ionization left by muon tracks- are surrounded by 24 inches of steel, and on top of that thick shield lies a second set of muon detectors, the CMP chambers. Muons need at least 2 GeV of transverse momentum to reach the CMU and leave hits there, or at least 3 GeV to make it to the CMP system and leave a signal there as well. When they do, they get to be called “CMUP muon candidates”. A muon candidate which leaves a signal in both the CMU and CMP chambers is a very, very clean one: as good as it gets in CDF.
Why do I insist in calling muons “candidates”, in the face of the cleanness of CMUP muons ? Because a muon signal at a hadron collider will always be plagued with background from hadrons punching through the calorimeter, producing muon chamber hits and thus faking real muons. Hadrons, unlike muons, are made of quarks, and so they cannot traverse large amounts of dense matter unscathed. As they leave the interaction point and enter the calorimeters, most of the times hadrons hit a heavy nucleus, producing some downstream debris which in turn gets absorbed by other nuclei. Thus, because hadrons are not minimum-ionizing particles, they have a much harder time than muons to reach the CMU detector, and a harder time still to make it to the CMP. Despite that, hadrons are so copiously produced in proton-antiproton collisions that one of them occasionally punches through the calorimeter system and reaches the CMU or the CMP detectors: the rarity of the punching through the calorimeter is compensated by the enormous rate with which hadrons enter it.
Now, if muons may be faked by hadrons, one has to reckon with the possibility that the “ghost” sample evidenced by CDF -muon candidates with abnormally large impact parameters, I venture to remind- may be composed, or at least contaminated, by hadrons with very large impact parameter. Hadrons with very large impact parameter ? This immediately brings a particle physicist to think of short K-zeroes and Lambdas!
Short K-zeroes, labelled , have a lifetime of about a tenth of a nanosecond. They may thus travel several centimeters in the CDF tracker before disintegrating into a pair of charged pions, (a relativistic particle makes a bit less than 30 centimeters in a nanosecond). These pions will have definitely a large impact parameter. Now, imagine it is a lucky day for one of these pions: it gets shot through the calorimeter by the kaon decay, and it sees heavy nuclei whizzing around as it plunges deep in the dense matter. After dodging billions of nuclei, and losing energy at a rate not too different from that of a muon through ionization of the medium, it makes it to the CMU chamber, leaves a hit there, enters the 24 inches of iron shield, dodges a few billion more nuclei, and makes it through the CMP too, creating further hits! A CMUP muon candidate!
The same mechanism discussed above can in principle provide a large impact parameter muon candidate through the decay to a proton-pion pair, : here the negative pion may be the hero of the day. Lambdas have a lifetime of 0.26 nanoseconds: together with short K-zeroes, these particles were called “V-particles” in the fifties, because they appeared as V’s in the bubble chamber pictures, such as the one below.
[In this picture we see the process called “associated production of strangeness”. The strong interaction of a negative pion (the track entering from the left which disappears) with a proton at rest produces two strange particles -a anti-kaon and a Lambda, which produce the two “V’s”. The reaction is . I remind you that the anti-kaon has the quark content , while the Lambda is a triplet. Strong interactions conserve additively the strangeness quantum number, and since S=0 in the initial state, S must be zero after the strong collision, so the S=+1 of the Lambda must be balanced by the S=-1 of the anti-kaon. Also, note that the weak decay of the two strange particles violates strangeness conservation: at the end of the chain, we are left with no strange particles!]
How to estimate the background due to V particles to the ghost muon signal ? Again, we use the very same dimuon data containing ghost events. We take a muon candidate and pair it up with any oppositely-charged track detected in the CDF tracker. We only care to select pairs which may have a common point of origin, and this fortunately reduces quite a bit the combinatorics. What do we make of these odd pairs ? We assume that the muon is in truth a charged pion, and that the other particle too is a pion, and we proceed to verify whether they are the product of the decay of a . Lo and behold, we do see a peak in the pair’s invariant mass distribution, as shown in the plot on the right! The peak sits at the 495 MeV mass of the neutral kaon, as it should, and has the expected resolution.
“Now wait a minute,” I can hear the courageous reader who reached this deep into this post say, “you said you took a muon and a pion and made a mass with them, and you find a K-zero ? But K-zeroes do not make muons!”. Sure, of course. That is the whole point: the muon candidates which belong to the nice gaussian bump shown in the plot are not real muons, but heroic pions that made it through the calorimeter: fake muons!
A similar procedure produces the plot shown on the left, where this time we tentatively assigned the proton mass to the other track. A sizable signal appears on top of a largish combinatorial background!
We are basically done: we count how many V particles we found in the data, we divide this number by the efficiency with which we find the V’s once we have one leg in the muon system (a number which the Monte Carlo simulation cannot get wrong too much, and which is roughly equal to 50%), and we get an estimate of the number of ghost muons due to hadron punch-through with lifetime. Since there are about 5300 kaons and 700 lambdas, this makes an estimate of about 6000/0.5 = 12,000 fake muons in the ghost sample: about 8% of the original signal.
Actually, we can be even tidier than just counting fake muons. We can play a nice trick that experimental particle physicists find elegant and simple. You see the mass distribution for the kaon signal above ? Imagine you make three vertical slices around the kaon: a central one including the gaussian bump, and two lateral ones half as wide. To be precise, let us say we select events with as the left sideband; events with as the signal band, and < as the right sideband. To first approximation, the number of non-kaon track pairs making the two “sidebands” is equal to the number of non-kaon track pairs in the central band, because they approximately contain the same number of events, once you neglect the gaussian signal -which is due to kaons. The approximation amounts to assuming that the background has a constant slope: certainly not far from the truth.
Now, you can take the events in the central band, and create a distribution of the impact parameter of the muon candidate track they contain (a sure fake muon, for the K signal; and a regular muon for the rest of the events). Then, you can take the sidebands and make a similar distribution with the muon candidates those sideband events contain. Finally, you can subtract this second impact parameter distribution (non-classified muons) from the first one (certified fake muons). Mind you, it will not happen frequently to you to subtract signal from a background to study the background -it usually happens the other way around! In any case, what you are left with is an histogram of the impact parameter distribution expected from fake muons from hadronic punch-through with large impact parameter. Neat, ain’t it ?
The impact parameter distribution is shown in the plot on the right above. Observe that these V-particle decays (hyperons have been also added to the distribution shown) do produce muon candidates with quite large impact parameters: I remind you that B-hadrons have died out when the impact parameter is larger than about five millimeters. Is this the source of ghost events ? Well, yes, 8% of it. In the CDF article, the authors are careful to explain from the outset that they treat ghost muons as a unidentified background, and they proceed to try and explain it away -eventually failing. Well: the simple punch-through mechanism discussed here accounts for 8% of it, but not much more.
The plot of the impact parameter of fake muons from hadron punch-through seen above can be directly compared with the plot of impact parameters of ghost muons, since both the x-axis and the y-axis have the same boundaries. I attach the original ghost-muon IP plot on the left, so that one can compare the two effortlessly. You can see that while the distribution of impact parameter is not too different in the two plots, the ghost muons (black points here) are more than one order of magnitude more numerous, especially at large impact parameters.