CMS Masterclass WZH Measurement
You will study events with multiple signatures to:
  • determine which are the best candidates for W, Z, and Higgs bosons,
  • distinguish W+ from W- candidates,
  • distinguish decays into electrons from decays into muons,
  • determine key ratios,
  • and build a mass plot of the Z candidates.


When a W or a Z boson decays, it produces two particles called leptons. Electrons, muons, and neutrinos are all leptons. So are their antiparticles.

Since the Z boson has zero charge, it can decay into two leptons of opposite charge (for example, e+ and e-). W bosons have +1 or -1 charge, so a W can decay into a single electron or muon plus a neutrino, which has no charge. This story goes deeper...but this is enough for now.

A Higgs boson has several possible decays. The two you might see are:
  • Higgs boson decays to two Z bosons.
  • Higgs boson decays to two photons.
There are only a very few of either of these in your data.

W boson candidate events

When a W+ or W- is produced in a proton-proton collision inside CMS, the W decays promptly. The two leptons (electron or muon plus neutrino) leave from the point of decay out from the beamline and into the detector itself. Electrons and muons are revealed as tracks in the inner detector. They curve in the strong magnetic field in CMS: clockwise for positive charge or anticlockwise for negative, when seen in an x-y view in the event display. Neutrinos are undetected; however, missing momentum in the system is shown as a purple track and generally attributed to the neutrino.

Choose the image to the left to get a larger version for close inspection. Can you locate the "missing momentum" vector in each of these events? Look closely at the curvature of the "other" track in each. Which is most likely the decay of a W+? a W-? The short green track in Event A indicates an electron. The longer red track in Event B which penetrates out to the red boxes indicates a muon.

Z boson candidate events

When a Z boson is made in CMS, it too decays right away. Here, the two leptons are either a muon pair (μ-μ+) or an electron pair (e-e+). No neutrino is produced, so there should be no missing momentum. In practice, there is a lot going on in any one event and the detector might miss something, so some missing momentum is possible.

Choose the image to the left to get a larger version for close inspection. Which of these is most likely to be a Z decaying into muons? a Z to electrons? Which could be a W event? How can you distinguish a W candidate from a Z candidate that might have some missing energy?

Higgs boson candidate events

There are several ways a Higgs boson can decay. We are concerned with two cases:

  • The Higgs decays to two Z bosons. The Z particles decay to leptons, as above, so we get four lepton tracks: two muon pairs (2 x μ-μ+), two electron pairs (2 x e-e+), or one muon and one electron pair (μ-μ+e-e+).
  • The Higgs decays to two photons. Photons are uncharged and so are not seen in the tracker. They instead leave large energy deposits in ECal.

Choose the image to the left to get a larger version for close inspection. Both of these events are Higgs candidates. One of them shows two photons (two green energy towers from ECal with no corresponding tracks). The other shows a possible Higgs decay into two Z bosons. Which do you think is which?

Elements of Events in iSpy-webgl

For each event, the beamline is along the common axis of the ECAL and HCAL wire-frame cylinders. Which is the better W candidate? the better Z candidate? In each event, where do the collision and particle decay occur?

Before You Start

If you are not familiar with iSpy and CIMA:
Analyze the Events

You will have the following to work with:
  • Event Display (iSpy-webgl)
  • CMS Instrument for Masterclass Analysis (CIMA)
  • Partner
You and your partner examine the event display, interpret it, and use the speadsheet to record your observations. The spreadsheet will help you find key ratios and histogram masses of Z boson candidates. Your mentor helps the whole group understand the results before they are sent to the video conference moderators.

You and your partner will have 100 events to examine. When you observe an event, ask:
  • Are the observable lepton tracks muons or electrons?
  • Is this a W candidate or a Z candidate or a Higgs candidate? Or is it a "zoo" event?
  • If it is more likely a W candidate, is it W+ or W-?
  • If it is more likely a Z candidate, can you identify the two lepton tracks and use them to find the invariant mass of the parent particle?
  • If it is more likely a Higgs candidate, is it 4-lepton or 2-photon?
There will be places to record all of these in CIMA.


Your mentor will help you combine the results from all students (up to 10000 events) to get the following for the Masterclass Institute as a whole:
  • the W/Z ratio (not as easy as it seems).
  • the W+/W- ratio.
  • the e/μ ratio.
  • the mass of the Z and other particles with similar decays from the statistical combination in a mass plot.
  • the number of possible Higgs events with 4-lepton and 2-photon decays.
Your CMS Masterclass Institute will combine with others in a video conference. The video conference activities are:
  • Each Masterclass Institute will submit its results for discussion.
  • The moderators will combine data from all Institutes and show a combined mass plot.
  • A Q&A session in which you can ask questions about anything from how the LHC works to what a particle physicist does for fun.