If as a news report author I say:
More data could provide additional details — or make the hints of the new particle disappear.
it will not be logical. It's as if I know for sure that this particle exists, but the narrow-minded researchers may decide it does not exist, should the hints disappear. However, I, being smarter than them, would still know that it does exist.
In reality, we have some definite hints, but they point at some particle of which existence we cannot yet be certain:
Last winter physicists detected hints of a potential new subatomic particle.
Last winter physicists detected hints of some potential new subatomic particle.
The matter is, the hints do not belong to the particle, despite the fact that we use the possessive preposition of. It's an abridgement of
Last winter physicists detected hints showing that a new, yet undiscovered particle may exist.
This is why these hints can disappear:
This spring physicists discovered that the hints disappeared. The phenomena detected last winder were in reality associated with already known particles.
Hints always point at something ephemeral, a thing or a phenomenon that may or may not turn out to be real.
Even if the existence of this particle is confirmed, a historical chapter in a book printed in 2116 may say that
The Princeton team first detected hints of a new particle on 12 September 2015.
.. even if the whole chapter is dedicated to the particle, and this particle is mentioned many times prior to this quote.