The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), or the world’s largest particle smasher, successfully completed its first test run after a two-year absence due to maintenance checks and upgrades. Scientists say that the revamped collider released this week new record-breaking energies.
But the approximate date when the LHC is scheduled to resume its particle-smashing business is this June.
On Thursday, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) which oversees the LHC and runs several other particle colliders released images from the test run featuring smashed particles at incredible speeds.
Following the 2-year-long pause, the LHC was first turned on this April. But this week, the first test run after the upgardes showed that the atom smasher could force particles to smash into each other at energies of 13 tera-electronvolts (TeV). The current output is twice the machine’s initial power.
Scientists explained that on a human scale 13 TeVs is not that much. A mosquito, for instance, requires the same energy to fly around, researchers said. But that energy was “compressed down into the size that’s a million times smaller than the width of a human hair,” they added.
The recent test run was designed to help scientists calibrate the so-called collimators that would shield the collider’s detectors and magnets from high-energy impacts from stray protons.
One of the researchers said that during collisions 100 billion to 1,000 billion particles get involved in the process. So, inevitably, some of those particles gain different energies from the rest and float outside the beam. While doing so, some of them hit the hardware.
Collimators, which are made of metal, can protect the collider from those particles. Scientists needed to learn what the most vulnerable spots were in order to know where to install the collimators in the most effective way. This week’s test run helped the team to just do that.
Scientists deemed the test run successful since all 9,600 magnets, which control the particles’ trajectories, were fully functional.
The LHC will be officially ready for action in early June. By then, other particle smashers including the ion collider ALICE, along with ATLAS and CMS particle detectors, would start gathering data on particles as well.
The LHC became famous in 2012 when it confirmed the existence of the elusive Higgs boson, or the “God particle.”
CERN scientists currently hope that higher energies would help them find more exotic particles, gain new insights on the universe, and confirm the supersymmetry theory, which states that every subatomic particle is linked under a spacetime symmetry to a superpartner.
Image Source: The Guardian