About a year ago the D0 collaboration announced a surprising result. They compared the number of events with two positive muons and those with two negative muons. Once the contribution from kaons and pions decaying to muons within the detector is subtracted and some instrumental effects are taken into account, the number of positive and negative muon pairs is expected to be the same. Instead, D0 saw a 1% excess of events with 2 negative muons which represented a 3.2 sigma deviation from the Standard Model prediction. Yesterday D0 presented an update of that measurement based on 9fb-1, that is almost the full data set they have on tape. They obtain the asymmetry of −0.787% with an error of about 0.2%. The anomaly has grown to 3.9 sigma!.
The observed dimuon charge asymmetry is most likely due to asymmetric decays of B-mesons. Bottom quarks inside these mesons can decay as b → c μ- ν, and analogously an anti-bottom quark can decay to a positive muon. Most of the time the Tevatron produces pairs of bottom and anti-bottom quarks, each of them dressing into its own B-meson. However, neutral B-mesons can oscillate into its own antiparticles. If this happens, both original b-quarks may end up decaying to same-sign muons. Furthermore, if the oscillation probability violates CP, that is oscillating Bbar → B is more likely than the other way round, then the excess of negative muon pairs may show up. In fact, such an effect occurs within the Standard Model, but the predicted asymmetry is tiny, of order 0.01%. On the other hand, the asymmetry of the size observed by D0 requires new sources of CP violation beyond the Standard Model. Like what? Like Z', W' charged Higgs, KK gluons, or whatever; we would need more clues to guess the right answer.
An important new element in the latest D0 analysis is the study how the asymmetry depends on muon's impact parameter with respect to the primary vertex of the collision. Muons from B-meson decays often have large impact parameters because decay happens picoseconds after production. On the other hand, muons from kaon decays have typically small impact parameters because the mother kaon usually comes straight from the collision point. Thus, selecting events with large impact parameters enriches the sample with dimuons from B-mesons decays. D0 concludes that the dependence of the asymmetry on the muon impact parameter is consistent with the hypothesis that it indeed originates from B-meson decays, and not from some mundane background. Moreveor, the cut on the impact parameter also affects the relative fractions of Bd and Bs meson decays in the dimuon sample (these fractions are about 50-50 without the IP cut, but due to different oscillation parameters more Bd mesons spit muons with large IP). Thus one can put better constraints on separate contributions of Bs and Bd mesons to the asymmetry. The result is this plot:
The axes are the semileptonic decay asymmetries of the Bd and Bs mesons. The pink band is the fit to the observed dimuon asymmetry without the IP cut, while the ellipse takes into account the input from the IP measurements. Unfortunately, we still cannot tell whether the asymmetry is due to Bs mesons, or Bd mesons, or both, which is of primary importance for theoretical interpretations of the anomaly.
So have we discovered new physics yet? Alas, recent history teaches us not to celebrate before the signal is confirmed by an independent experimental group. The CDF collaboration had an anomaly even larger than 4 sigma which did not stop D0 from ruthlessly shooting it down. The rules of the wild west suggest that CDF may attempt the same with the D0 pet anomaly, after which they all meet at the O.K. Corral. But maybe this time it'll be different? Maybe this time it's for real? We may learn more later this year, either from CDF or from the LHC. Actually, the LHCb experiment promised to deliver a complementary evaluation of the B-meson decay asymmetries by measuring the B →D μ ν decay rates. Because of systematic effects they find it easier to determine the difference of the Bd and Bs meson semileptonic decay asymmetries (while the D0 dimuon asymmetry depends roughly on the sum thereof). With 1fb-1 of data their expected sensitivity corresponds to the thin gray band in the plot on the right. One more reason to bite our nails while waiting for the next LHC results!