Sunday, 31 January 2016

750 ways to leave your lover

A new paper last week straightens out the story of the diphoton background in ATLAS. Some confusion was created because theorists misinterpreted the procedures described in the ATLAS conference note, which could lead to a different estimate of the significance of the 750 GeV excess. However, once the correct phenomenological and statistical approach is adopted, the significance quoted by ATLAS can be reproduced, up to small differences due to incomplete information available in public documents. Anyway, now that this is all behind, we can safely continue being excited at least until summer.  Today I want to discuss different interpretations of the diphoton bump observed by ATLAS. I will take a purely phenomenological point of view, leaving for the next time  the question of a bigger picture that the resonance may fit into.

Phenomenologically, the most straightforward interpretation is the so-called everyone's model: a 750 GeV singlet scalar particle produced in gluon fusion and decaying to photons via loops of new vector-like quarks. This simple construction perfectly explains all publicly available data, and can be easily embedded in more sophisticated models. Nevertheless, many more possibilities were pointed out in the 750 papers so far, and here I review a few that I find most interesting.

Spin Zero or More?  
For a particle decaying to two photons, there is not that many possibilities: the resonance has to be a boson and, according to young Landau's theorem, it cannot have spin 1. This leaves at the table spin 0, 2, or higher. Spin-2 is an interesting hypothesis, as this kind of excitations is predicted in popular models like the Randall-Sundrum one. Higher-than-two spins are disfavored theoretically. When more data is collected, the spin of the 750 GeV resonance can be tested by looking at the angular distribution of the photons. The rumor is that the data so far somewhat favor spin-2 over spin-0, although the statistics is certainly insufficient for any serious conclusions.  Concerning the parity, it is practically impossible to determine it by studying the diphoton final state, and both the scalar and the pseudoscalar option are equally viable at present. Discrimination may be possible in the future, but  only if multi-body decay modes of the resonance are discovered. If the true final state is more complicated than two photons (see below), then the 750 GeV resonance may have  any spin, including spin-1 and spin-1/2.

Narrow or Wide? 
The total width is an inverse of particle's lifetime (in our funny units). From the experimental point of view, the width larger than detector's  energy resolution  will show up as a smearing of the resonance due to the uncertainty principle. Currently, the ATLAS run-2 data prefer the width 10 times larger than the experimental resolution  (which is about 5 GeV in this energy ballpark), although the preference is not very strong in the statistical sense. On the other hand, from the theoretical point of view, it is much easier to construct models where the 750 GeV resonance is a narrow particle. Therefore, confirmation of the large width would have profound consequences, as it would significantly narrow down the scope of viable models.  The most exciting interpretation would then be that the resonance is a portal to a dark sector containing new light particles very weakly coupled to ordinary matter.    

How many resonances?  
One resonance is enough, but a family of resonances tightly packed around 750 GeV may also explain the data. As a bonus, this could explain the seemingly large width without opening new dangerous decay channels. It is quite natural for particles to come in multiplets with similar masses: our pion is an example where the small mass splitting π± and π0 arises due to electromagnetic quantum corrections. For Higgs-like multiplets the small splitting may naturally arise after electroweak symmetry breaking, and  the familiar 2-Higgs doublet model offers a simple realization. If the mass splitting of the multiplet is larger than the experimental resolution, this possibility can tested by precisely measuring the profile of the resonance and searching for a departure from the Breit-Wigner shape. On the other side of the spectrum is the idea is that there is no resonance at all at 750 GeV, but rather at another mass, and the bump at 750 GeV appears due to some kinematical accidents.
Who made it? 
The most plausible production process is definitely the gluon-gluon fusion. Production in collisions of light quark and antiquarks is also theoretically sound, however it leads to a more acute tension between run-2 and run-1 data. Indeed, even for the gluon fusion, the production cross section of a 750 GeV resonance in 13 TeV proton collisions is only 5 times larger than at 8 TeV. Given the larger amount of data collected in run-1, we would expect a similar excess there, contrary to observations. For a resonance produced from u-ubar or d-dbar the analogous ratio is only 2.5 (see the table), leading to much more  tension. The ratio climbs back to 5 if the initial state contains the heavier quarks: strange, charm, or bottom (which can also be found sometimes inside a proton), however I haven't seen yet a neat model that makes use of that. Another possibility is to produce the resonance via photon-photon collisions. This way one could cook up a truly minimal and very predictive model where the resonance couples only to photons of all the Standard Model particles. However, in this case, the ratio between 13 and 8 TeV cross section is very unfavorable, merely a factor of 2, and the run-1 vs run-2 tension comes back with more force. More options open up when associated production (e.g. with t-tbar, or in vector boson fusion) is considered. The problem with these ideas is that, according to what was revealed during the talk last December, there isn't any additional energetic particles in the diphoton events. Similar problems are facing models where the 750 GeV resonance appears as a decay product of a heavier resonance, although in this case some clever engineering or fine-tuning may help to hide the additional particles from experimentalist's eyes.

Two-body or more?
While a simple two-body decay of the resonance into two photons is a perfectly plausible explanation of all existing data, a number of interesting alternatives have been suggested. For example, the decay could be 3-body, with another soft visible or invisible  particle accompanying two photons. If the masses of all particles involved are chosen appropriately, the invariant mass spectrum of the diphoton remains sharply peaked. At the same time, a broadening of the diphoton energy due to the 3-body kinematics may explain why the resonance appears wide in ATLAS. Another possibility is a cascade decay into 4 photons. If the  intermediate particles are very light, then the pairs of photons from their decay are very collimated and may look like a single photon in the detector.
 ♬ The problem is all inside your head   and the possibilities are endless. The situation is completely different than during the process of discovering the  Higgs boson, where one strongly favored hypothesis was tested against more exotic ideas. Of course, the first and foremost question is whether the excess is really new physics, or just a nasty statistical fluctuation. But if that is confirmed, the next crucial task for experimentalists will be to establish the nature of the resonance and get model builders on the right track.  The answer is easy if you take it logically ♬ 

All ideas discussed above appeared in recent articles by various authors addressing the 750 GeV excess. If I were to include all references the post would be just one giant hyperlink, so you need to browse the literature yourself to find the original references.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Higgs force awakens

The Higgs boson couples to particles that constitute matter around us, such as electrons, protons, and neutrons. Its virtual quanta are constantly being exchanged between these particles.  In other words, it gives rise to a force -  the Higgs force. I'm surprised why this PR-cool aspect is not explored in our outreach efforts. Higgs bosons mediate the Higgs force in the same fashion as gravitons, gluons, photons, W and Z bosons mediate  the gravity, strong, electromagnetic, and  weak forces. Just like gravity, the Higgs force is always attractive and its strength is proportional, in the first approximation, to particle's mass. It is a force in a common sense; for example, if we bombarded long enough a detector with a beam of particles interacting only via the Higgs force, they would eventually knock off atoms in the detector.

There is of course a reason why the Higgs force is less discussed: it has never been detected directly. Indeed, in the absence of midi-chlorians it is extremely weak. First, it shares the feature of the weak interactions of being short-ranged: since the mediator is massive, the interaction strength is exponentially suppressed at distances larger than an attometer (10^-18 m), about 0.1% of the diameter of a proton. Moreover, for ordinary matter, the weak force is more important because of the tiny Higgs couplings to light quarks and electrons. For example, for the proton the Higgs force is thousand times weaker than the weak force, and for the electron it is hundred thousand times weaker. Finally, there are no known particles interacting only via the Higgs force and gravity (though dark matter in some hypothetical models has this property), so in practice the Higgs force is always a tiny correction to more powerful forces that shape the structure of atoms and nuclei. This is again in contrast to the weak force, which is particularly relevant for neutrinos who are immune to strong and electromagnetic forces.

Nevertheless, this new paper argues that the situation is not hopeless, and that the current experimental sensitivity is good enough to start probing the Higgs force. The authors propose to do it by means of atom spectroscopy. Frequency measurements of atomic transitions have reached the stunning accuracy of order 10^-18. The Higgs force creates a Yukawa type potential between the nucleus and orbiting electrons, which leads to a shift of the atomic levels. The effect is tiny, in particular it  is always smaller than the analogous shift due to the weak force. This is a serious problem, because calculations of the leading effects may not be accurate enough to extract the subleading Higgs contribution.  Fortunately, there may be tricks to reduce the uncertainties. One is to measure how the isotope shift of transition frequencies for several isotope pairs. The theory says that the leading atomic interactions should give rise to a universal linear relation (the so-called King's relation) between  isotope shifts for different transitions. The Higgs and weak interactions should lead to a violation of King's relation. Given many uncertainties plaguing calculations of atomic levels, it may still be difficult to ever claim a detection of the Higgs force. More realistically, one can try to set limits on the Higgs couplings to light fermions which will be better than the current collider limits.  

Atomic spectroscopy is way above my head, so I cannot judge if the proposal is realistic. There are a few practical issues to resolve before the Higgs force is mastered into a lightsaber. However, it is possible that a new front to study the Higgs boson will be opened in the near future. These studies will provide information about the Higgs couplings to light Standard Model fermions, which is complementary to the information obtained from collider searches.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Gunpowder Plot: foiled

Just a week ago I hailed the new king, and already there was an assassination attempt. A new paper claims that the statistical significance of the 750 GeV diphoton excess is merely 2 sigma local. The  story is being widely discussed in the corridors and comment sections because we all like to watch things die...  The assassins used this plot:

The Standard Model prediction for the diphoton background at the LHC is difficult to calculate from first principles. Therefore,  the ATLAS collaboration assumes a theoretically motivated functional form for this background as a function of the diphoton invariant mass. The ansatz contains a number of free parameters, which are then fitted using the data in the entire analyzed range of invariant masses. This procedure leads to the prediction represented by the dashed line in the plot (but see later). The new paper assumes a slightly more complicated functional form with more free parameters, such that the slope of the background is allowed to change.  The authors argue that their more general  ansatz provides a better fit to the entire diphoton spectrum, and moreover predicts a larger background for the large invariant masses.  As a result, the significance of the 750 GeV excess decreases to an insignificant value of 2 sigma.
There are several problems with this claim.  First, I'm confused why the blue line is described as the ATLAS fit, since it is clearly different than the background curve in the money-plot provided by ATLAS (Fig. 1 in ATLAS-CONF-2015-081). The true ATLAS background is above the blue line, and much closer to the black line in the peak region (edit: it seems now that the background curve plotted by ATLAS corresponds to a1=0  and one more free parameter for an overall normalization, while the paper assumes fixed normalization). Second, I cannot reproduce the significance quoted in the paper. Taking the two ATLAS bins around 750 GeV, I find 3.2 sigma excess using the true ATLAS background, and 2.6 sigma using the black line (edit: this is because my  estimate is too simplistic, and the paper also takes into account the uncertainty on the background curve). Third, the postulated change of slope is difficult to justify theoretically. It would mean there is a new background component kicking in at ~500 GeV, but this does not seem to be the case in this analysis.

Finally, the problem with the black line is that it grossly overshoots the high mass tail,  which is visible even to a naked eye.  To be more quantitative, in the range 790-1590 GeV there are 17 diphoton events observed by ATLAS,  the true ATLAS backgrounds predicts 19 events, and the black line predicts 33 events. Therefore, the background shape proposed in the paper is inconsistent with the tail at the 3 sigma level! While the alternative background choice decreases the  significance at the 750 GeV peak, it simply moves (and amplifies) the tension to another place.

So, I think the plot is foiled and the  claim does not stand scrutiny.  The 750 GeV peak may well be just a statistical fluctuation that will go away when more data is collected, but it's unlikely to be a stupid error on the part of ATLAS. The king will live at least until summer.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Weekend Plot: The king is dead (long live the king)

The new diphoton king has been discussed at length in the blogoshpere, but the late diboson king also deserves a word or two. Recall that last summer ATLAS announced a 3 sigma excess in the dijet invariant mass distribution where each jet resembles a fast moving W or Z boson decaying to a pair of quarks. This excess can be interpreted as a 2 TeV resonance decaying to a pair of W or Z bosons. For example, it could be a heavy cousin of the W boson, W' in short, decaying to a W and a Z boson. Merely a month ago this paper argued that the excess remains statistically significant after combining several different CMS and ATLAS diboson resonance run-1 analyses in hadronic and leptonic channels of W and Z decay. However, the hammer came down seconds before the diphoton excess announced: diboson resonance searches based on the LHC 13 TeV collisions data do not show anything interesting around 2 TeV. This is a serious problem for any new physics interpretation of the excess since, for this mass scale,  the statistical power of the run-2 and run-1 data is comparable.  The tension is summarized in this plot:
The green bars show the 1 and 2 sigma best fit cross section to the diboson excess. The one on the left takes into account  only the hadronic channel in ATLAS, where the excess is most significant; the one on the right is bases on  the combined run-1 data. The red lines are the limits from run-2 searches in ATLAS and CMS, scaled to 8 TeV cross sections assuming W' is produced in quark-antiquark collisions. Clearly, the best fit region for the 8 TeV data is excluded by the new 13 TeV data. I display results for the W' hypothesis, however conclusions are similar (or more pessimistic) for other hypotheses leading to WW and/or ZZ final states. All in all,  the ATLAS diboson excess is not formally buried yet, but at this point any a reversal of fortune would be a miracle.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Do-or-die year

The year 2016 began as any other year... I mean the hangover situation in particle physics. We have a theory of fundamental interactions - the Standard Model - that we know is certainly not the final  theory because it cannot account for dark matter, matter-antimatter asymmetry, and cosmic inflation. At the same time, the Standard Model perfectly describes any experiment we have performed here on Earth (up to a few outliers that can be shrugged off as statistical fluctuations)... If you're having a déjà vu, maybe it's the Monty Python sketch, or maybe because this post begins exactly the same as one written a year ago.   Back then,  I was optimistically  assuming that the 2015 LHC operation would go better than the projections, and that some 15 inverse femtobarn of data would be collected by each experiment. That amount would have clarified our chances for a discovery in the LHC run-2, and determine whether or not we should dust off our No Future t-shirts. Instead, due to machine's hiccups during the summer, only about 4 fb-1 was delivered to each experiment. This added up to the magnet and calorimeters problems in the CMS experiment who managed to collect only 2.4 fb-1 of useful data, against 3.6 fb-1 in ATLAS. With that amount, the discriminating power is improved with respect to run-1 only for particles heavier than ~1 TeV.  As a consequence, the boundaries of our knowledge have changed only slightly compared to the status a year ago. At the end of the day, it's this year, and not the previous one, that is going to be decisive for the field.

So the tension is similar as last year at this time, however the mood is considerably better, see the plot. We have two intriguing hints of new physics that have a non-negligible chance to develop into a strong evidence: one is the B-meson anomalies discussed several times in this blog, and the other is the 750 GeV diphoton excess. Especially the latter stirs theorists' imagination,  even if some experimentalists deplore the fact (theorists writing papers inspired by experimental data? oh horror...).   A significant deviation from the Standard Model seen independently  by 2 different collaborations  in an experimentally clean channel happens for the first time in my life.  In my private poll, the chances for the B-meson anomalies to be new physics are estimated as 1%, while for the diphoton the chances are 10%. This adds up to a whopping 11% chance, the biggest ever, of finding new physics soon. Moreover, if the diphoton excess is really a new particle, we are basically guaranteed to find other phenomena beyond the Standard Model. Indeed, most models accommodating the 750 GeV excess require new colored states with O(1) TeV mass, which are then most naturally embedded in a theory with new strong interactions at a few TeV scale.  Not only would that give a boost to future LHC analyses, but it would also motivate building a higher-energy collider,  e.g.  a 30 TeV collider that could be constructed at a short time scale at CERN.

Anything may happen this year, for good or for worse. Cross your fingers and fasten your seat belts.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

750 and what next

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.

First of all, there should be a dijet signal. Since the new particle is almost certainly produced via gluon collisions,  it must be able to decay to gluons as well by time-reversing the production process. This would show up at the LHC as a pair of energetic jets with the invariant mass of 750 GeV. Moreover, in simplest models the 750 GeV particle decays to gluons most of the times. The precise dijet rate is very model-dependent, and in some models it  is too small to ever be observed, but typical scenarios predict order 1-10 picobarn dijet cross-sections. This would mean that thousands of such events have been produced in the LHC run-1 and this year in run-2. The plot on the right shows one example of a parameter space (green) overlaid with contours of dijet cross section (red lines) and limits from dijet resonance 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 ;)

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

A new boson at 750 GeV?

ATLAS and CMS presented today a summary of the first LHC results obtained from proton collisions with 13 TeV center-of-mass energy. The most exciting news was of course the 3.6 sigma bump at 750 GeV in the ATLAS diphoton spectrum, roughly coinciding with a 2.6 sigma excess in CMS. When there's an experimental hint of new physics signal there is always this set of questions we must ask:

0. WTF ?
0. Do we understand the background?
1. What is the statistical significance of  the signal?
2. Is the signal consistent with other data sets?
3. Is there a theoretical framework to describe it?
4. Does it fit in a bigger scheme of new physics?

Let us go through these questions one by one.

The background.  There's several boring ways to make photon pairs at the LHC, but they are expected to produce a  spectrum smoothly decreasing with the invariant mass of the pair. This expectation was borne out in run-1, where the 125 GeV Higgs resonance could be clearly seen on top of a nicely smooth background, with no breaks or big wiggles. So it is unlikely that some Standard Model processes (other than a statistical fluctuation) may produce a bump such as the one seen by ATLAS.

The stats.   The local significance is 3.6 sigma in ATLAS and 2.6 sigma in CMS.  Naively combining the two, we get a more than 4 sigma excess. It is a very large effect, but we have already seen this large fluctuations at the LHC that vanished into thin air (remember 145 GeV Higgs?). Next year's LHC data will be  crucial to confirm or exclude the signal.  In the meantime, we have a perfect right to be excited.

The consistency. For this discussion, the most important piece of information is the diphoton data collected in run-1 at 8 TeV center-of-mass energy.  Both ATLAS and CMS have a small 1 sigma excess around 750 GeV in the run-1 data, but there is no clear bump there.  If a new 750 GeV  particle is produced in gluon-gluon collisions,  then the gain in the signal cross section at 13 TeV compared to 8 TeV is roughly a factor of 5.  On the other hand, there was 6 times more data collected at 8 TeV by ATLAS (3.2 fb-1 vs 20 fb-1). This means that the number of signal events produced in ATLAS at 13 TeV should be about 75% of those at 8 TeV, and the ratio is even worse for CMS (who used only 2.6 fb-1).  However, the background may grow less fast than the signal, so the power of the 13 TeV and 8 TeV data is comparable.  All in all, there is some tension between the run-1 and run-2 data sets,  however a mild downward fluctuation of the signal at 8 TeV and/or a mild upward fluctuation at 13 TeV is enough to explain it.  One can also try to explain the lack of signal in run-1 by the fact that the 750 GeV particle is a decay product of a heavier resonance (in which case the cross-section gain can be much larger). More careful study with next year's data  will be needed to test for this possibility.

The model.  This is the easiest part :)  A resonance produced in gluon-gluon collisions and decaying to 2 photons?  We've seen that already... that's how the Higgs boson was first spotted.  So all we need to do is to borrow from the Standard Model. The simplest toy model for the resonance would be a new singlet scalar with mass of 750 GeV coupled to new heavy vector-like quarks that carry color and electric charges. Then quantum effects will produce, in analogy to what happens for the Higgs boson, an effective coupling of the new scalar to gluons and photons:

By a judicious choice of the effective couplings (which depend on masses, charges, and couplings of the vector-like quarks) one can easily fit the diphoton excess observed by ATLAS and CMS. This is shown as the green region in the plot.
 If the vector-like quark is a T', that is to say, it has the same color and electric charge as the Standard Model top quark, then the effective couplings must lie along the blue line. The exclusion limits from the run-1 data (mesh) cut through the best fit region, but do not disfavor the model completely. Variation of this minimal toy model will appear in a 100 papers this week.

The big picture.  Here sky is the limit. The situation is completely different than 3 years ago, where there was one strongly preferred (and ultimately true) interpretation of the 125 GeV diphoton and 4-lepton signals as the Higgs boson of the Standard Model. On the other hand,  scalars coupled to new quarks appear in countless model of new physics. We may be seeing the radial Higgs partner predicted by little Higgs or twin Higgs models, or the dilaton arising due to spontaneous conformal symmetry breaking, or a composite state bound by new strong interactions.  It could be a part of the extended Higgs sector in many different context, e.g. the heavy scalar or pseudo-scalar in the two Higgs doublet models.  For more spaced out possibilities, it could be the KK graviton of the Randall-Sundrum model, or it could fit some popular supersymmetric models such as the  NMSSM. All these scenarios face some challenges.  One is to explain why the branching ratio into two photons is large enough to be observed, and why the 750 GeV scalar is not seen in other decays channels, e.g. in decay to W boson pairs which should be the dominant mode for a Higgs-like scalar.  However, these challenges are nothing that an average theorist could not resolve by tomorrow morning.  Most likely, this particle would just be a small part of the larger structure, possibly having something to do with electroweak symmetry breaking and the hierarchy problem of the Standard Model.  If the signal is a real thing, then it may be the beginning of a new golden era in particle physics....