A week has passed since the LHC jamboree, but the excitement about the 750 GeV diphoton excess has not abated. So far, the scenario from 2011 repeats itself. A significant but not definitive signal is spotted in the early data set by the ATLAS and CMS experiments. This announcement is wrapped in multiple layers of caution and skepticism by experimentalists, but is universally embraced by theorists. What is unprecedented is the scale of theorist's response, which took a form of a hep-ph tsunami. I still need time to digest this feast, and pick up interesting bits among general citation fishing. So today I won't write about the specific models in which the 750 GeV particle could fit: I promise a post on that after the New Year (anyway, the short story is that, oh my god, it could be just anybody). Instead, I want to write about one point that was elucidated by the early papers, namely that the diphoton resonance signal is unlikely to be on its own, and there should be accompanying signals in other channels. In the best case scenario, confirmation of the diphoton signal may come by analyzing the existing data in other channels collected this year or in run-1.
searches in run-1 with 8 TeV proton collisions (red area). Dijet resonance searches are routine at the LHC, however experimenters usually focus on the high-energy end of the spectrum, far above 1 TeV invariant mass. In fact, the 750 GeV region is not covered at all by the recent LHC searches at 13 TeV proton collision energy.
The next important conclusion is that there should be matching signals in other diboson channels at the 750 GeV invariant mass. For the 125 GeV Higgs boson, the signal was originally discovered in both the γγ and the ZZ final states, while in the WW channel the signal is currently similarly strong. If the 750 GeV particle were anything like the Higgs, the resonance should actually first show in the ZZ and WW final states (due to the large coupling to longitudinal polarizations of vector bosons which is a characteristic feature of Higgs-like particles). From the non-observation of anything interesting in run-1 one can conclude that there must be little Higgsiness in the 750 GeV particle, less than 10%. Nevertheless, even if the particle has nothing to do with the Higgs (for example, if it's a pseudo-scalar), it should still decay to diboson final states once in a while. This is because a neutral scalar cannot couple directly to photons, and the coupling has to arise at the quantum level through some other new electrically charged particles, see the diagram above. The latter couple not only to photons but also to Z bosons, and sometimes to W bosons too. While the details of the branching fractions are highly dependent, diboson signals with comparable rates as the diphoton one are generically predicted. In this respect, the decays of the 750 GeV particle to one photon and one Z boson emerge as a new interesting battleground. For the 125 GeV Higgs boson, decays to Zγ have not been observed yet, but in the heavier mass range the sensitivity is apparently better. ATLAS made a search for high-mass Zγ resonances in the run-1 data, and their limits already put non-trivial constraint on some models explaining the 750 GeV excess. Amusingly, the ATLAS Zγ search has a 1 sigma excess at 730 GeV... CMS has no search in this mass range at all, and both experiments are yet to analyze the run-2 data in this channel. So, in principle, it is well possible that we learn something interesting even before the new round of collisions starts at the LHC.
Another generic prediction is that there should be vector-like quarks or other new colored particles just behind the corner. As mentioned above, such particles are necessary to generate an effective coupling of the 750 GeV particle to photons and gluons. In order for those couplings to be large enough to explain the observed signal, at least one of the new states should have mass below ~1.5 TeV. Limits on vector-like quarks depend on what they decay to, but the typical sensitivity in run-1 is around 800 GeV. In run-2, CMS already presented a search for a charge 5/3 quark decaying to a top quark and a W boson, and they were able to improve the run-1 limits on the new quark's mass from 800 GeV up to 950 GeV. Limits on other type of new quarks should follow shortly.
On a bit more speculative side, ATLAS claims that the best fit to the data is obtained if the 750 GeV resonance is wider than the experimental resolution. While the statistical significance of this statement is not very high, it would have profound consequences if confirmed. Large width is possible only if the 750 GeV particle decays to other final states than photons and gluons. An exciting possibility is that the large width is due to decays to a new hidden sector with new light particles very weakly or not at all coupled to the Standard Model. If these particles do not leave any trace in the detector then the signal is the same monojet signature as that of dark matter: an energetic jet emitted before the collision without matching activity on the other side of the detector. In fact, dark matter searches in run-1 practically exclude the possibility that the large width can be accounted for uniquely by invisible decays (see comments #2 and #13 below). However, if the new particles in the hidden sector couple weakly to the known particles, they can decay back to our sector, possibly after some delay, leading to complicated exotic signals in the detector. This is the so-called hidden valley scenario that my fellow blogger has been promoting for some time. If the 750 GeV particle is confirmed to have a large width, the motivation for this kind of new physics will become very strong. Many of the possible signals that one can imagine in this context are yet to be searched for.
Dijets, dibosons, monojets, vector-like quarks, hidden valley... experimentalists will have hands full this winter. A negative result in any of these searches would not strongly disfavor the diphoton signal, but would provide important clues for model building. A positive signal would break all hell loose, assuming it hasn't yet. So, we are waiting eagerly for further results from the LHC, which should show up around the time of the Moriond conference in March. Watch out for rumors on blogs and Twitter ;)