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Prospects for direct searches for light Higgs bosons at the ILC with 250 GeV

Abstract

The particle discovered in the Higgs boson searches at the LHC with a mass of about 125 GeV is compatible within the present uncertainties with the Higgs boson predicted in the Standard Model (SM), but it could also be identified with one of the neutral Higgs bosons in a variety of Beyond the SM (BSM) theories with an extended Higgs sector. The possibility that an additional Higgs boson (or even more than one) could be lighter than the state that has been detected at 125 GeV occurs generically in many BSM models and has some support from slight excesses that were observed above the background expectations in Higgs searches at LEP and at the LHC. The couplings between additional Higgs fields and the electroweak gauge bosons in BSM theories could be probed by model-independent Higgs searches at lepton colliders. We present a generator-level extrapolation of the limits obtained at LEP to the case of a future e+ee^+e^- collider, both for the search where the light Higgs boson decays into a pair of bottom quarks and for the decay-mode-independent search utilising the recoil method. We find that at the ILC with a c.m. energy of 250 GeV, an integrated luminosity of 500 fb^{-1} and polarised beams, the sensitivity to a light Higgs boson with reduced couplings to gauge bosons is improved by more than an order of magnitude compared to the LEP limits and goes much beyond the projected indirect sensitivity of the HL-LHC with 3000 fb^{-1} from the rate measurements of the detected state at 125 GeV.Comment: Minor changes, version to appear in EPJC, 13 pages, 4 figure

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