Search for exotic decays of the Higgs boson to a pair of pseudoscalars in the $\mu\mu$bb and $\tau\tau$bb final states

The CMS collaboration
CMS-HIG-22-007, 2024.

A search for exotic decays of the Higgs boson (H) with a mass of 125 GeV to a pair of light pseudoscalars $\mathrm{a}_1$ is performed in final states where one pseudoscalar decays to two b quarks and the other to a pair of muons or $\tau$ leptons. A data sample of proton-proton collisions at $\sqrt{s}$ = 13 TeV corresponding to an integrated luminosity of 138 fb$^{-1}$ recorded with the CMS detector is analyzed. No statistically significant excess is observed over the standard model backgrounds. Upper limits are set at 95% confidence level (CL) on the Higgs boson branching fraction to $\mu\mu$bb and to $\tau\tau$bb, via a pair of $\mathrm{a}_1$s. The limits depend on the pseudoscalar mass $m_{\mathrm{a}_1}$ and are observed to be in the range (0.17-3.3) $\times$ 10$^{-4}$ and (1.7-7.7) $\times$ 10$^{2}$ in the $\mu\mu$bb and $\tau\tau$bb final states, respectively. In the framework of models with two Higgs doublets and a complex scalar singlet (2HDM+S), the results of the two final states are combined to determine model-independent upper limits on the branching fraction $\mathcal{B}$(H $\to$ $\mathrm{a}_1\mathrm{a}_1$ $\to$ $\ell\ell$bb) at 95% CL, with $\ell$ being a muon or a $\tau$ lepton. For different types of 2HDM+S, upper bounds on the branching fraction $\mathcal{B}$(H $\to$ $\mathrm{a}_1\mathrm{a}_1$) are extracted from the combination of the two channels. In most of the Type II 2HDM+S parameter space, $\mathcal{B}($H $\to$ $\mathrm{a}_1\mathrm{a}_1$) values above 0.23 are excluded at 95% CL for $m_{\mathrm{a}_1}$ values between 15 and 60 GeV.

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