The discovery of the Higgs boson, also called the "God particle," is now being called into question by a different group of scientists.
The elusive particle, regarded as key to understanding why matter has mass, which combines with gravity to give objects weight, was said to have been discovered by scientists at the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland. While scientists agree that a new particle was found, more recent analysis suggests that it might not have been Higgs.
"The CERN data is generally taken as evidence that the particle is the Higgs particle. It is true that the Higgs particle can explain the data but there can be other explanations, we would also get this data from other particles", Mads Toudal Frandsen, an associate professor at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics Phenomenology at the University of Southern Denmark, said in a statement.
A visitor takes a phone photograph of a large back lit image of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the Science Museum's 'Collider' exhibition on November 12, 2013 in London, England. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
These scientists aren't saying the particle wasn't Higgs but merely suggesting that it could have been something else as well.
"The current data is not precise enough to determine exactly what the particle is. It could be a number of other known particles," Frandsen said.
Dr. Michael Tuts with Columbia University seemed to agree with Frandsen's assessment.
"The data from the LHC experiments are certainly consistent with the Higgs expectations of how it is produced and how it decays, as well as the spin of this particle," Tuts told The Huffington Post. "However, as the article points out, that may not be the only explanation of this new particle."
Frandsen said that what CERN scientists found could be a techni-higgs particle:
Although the techni-higgs particle and Higgs particle can easily be confused in experiments, they are two very different particles belonging to two very different theories of how the universe was created.
The Higgs particle is the missing piece in the theory called the Standard Model. This theory describes three of the four forces of nature. But it does not explain what dark matter is - the substance that makes up most of the universe. A techni-higgs particle, if it exists, is a completely different thing:
"A techni-higgs particle is not an elementary particle. Instead, it consists of so-called techni-quarks, which we believe are elementary. Techni-quarks may bind together in various ways to form for instance techni-higgs particles, while other combinations may form dark matter. We therefore expect to find several different particles at the LHC, all built by techni-quarks”, says Mads Toudal Frandsen.
Frandsen said more data is needed to confirm if CERN scientists found Higgs or a techni-higgs particle.
CERN also made recent news earlier this month by naming its first female director general, an Italian physicist. Fabiola Gianotti has been a research physicist in CERN's physics department since 1994 and was project leader of the ATLAS experiment that announced its discovery of the Higgs boson last year.
The research from Frandsen and his colleagues was published earlier this year in the journal Physical Review D.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story has been updated to correct a typo.