After a three-year hiatus, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator is back in business and already breaking records.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — which is operated by European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) — is the world’s largest particle accelerator and consists of a 27-kilometer ring of superconducting magnets buried between the border of France and Switzerland. The LHC uses these magnets to accelerate and crush protons and ions at nearly the speed of light, to help scientists understand particle physics, including the origin of mass, dark matter and antimatteraccording CERN.
However, for the past three years, the LHC has been closed for maintenance and repairs.
“The machines and facilities underwent major upgrades during the second long shutdown of the CERN accelerator complex,” said CERN Director of Accelerators and Technology Mike Lamont. said in a statement. “The LHC itself has undergone an extensive consolidation program and will now operate at even greater power and, thanks to major improvements to the injector complex, will provide significantly more data for the updated LHC experiments.”
Now, proton beams are circling the LHC again after it reopened on April 22nd and the LHC upgrades are already paying off.
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After just three days of reopening, two beams of protons were accelerated to record an energy of 6.8 trillion electron volts per beam, according to a study. video announcing the milestone. The previous record came during the LHC’s second run in 2015, when it reached energy levels of 6.5 TeV.
This pilot run is the precursor to the LHC’s third major run, which is planned for this summer – called LHC Run 3. LHC scientists are gearing up to once again break the new record, surpassing an energy output of 13.6 TeV, according to CERN. Along with the collision of higher-energy particles, LHC scientists will collect data from more collisions than ever before. One of the experiments designed to study heavy ion collisions — called A Large Ion Collider Experiment (ALICE) — can expect a “50-fold increase” in the number of ion collisions it can record thanks to the latest update, according to the CERN.
LHC Run 3 is expected to last three years until 2025, when it will again have an extended shutdown between 2026 and 2030, according to the LHC schedule.
Originally published on Live Science.