At CERN, the teams in charge of the LHC were impatiently awaiting the return to service of their favorite machine, and this one has given them back.
Decidedly, the LHC is back on top gear! Having just come out of its torpor, CERN’s famous particle accelerator distinguished itself by adding a new record to its impressive list of winners; barely awake, he set the record for the most energetic proton flux ever produced by humans. And all this right out of bed!
Indeed, the installation is coming out of a three-year hibernation period (see our article). A delay that allowed CERN to significantly beef up the machine. “The LHC itself has undergone an extensive consolidation program and will now operate at even higher energy”, explains the institution in a press release.
The engineers also applied “major improvements” to the injection complex, the element that catapults the particles into a 27 km long tunnel where they can accelerate before the collision. For the CERN troops, this represents the promise of obtaining more data essential to the understanding of particle physics.
6.8 TeV on the meter, record broken
And the least we can say is that the machine was not asked to show the extent of its capabilities. In a press release, teams from the Geneva-based research institution announced that the energy of the first particle streams produced was estimated at 6.8 TeV, (or 6.8 trillion electron-volts per beam)!
A daunting figure, and above all significantly higher than the 6.5 TeV measured in 2015; it is therefore a new record in this area. Inevitably, the researchers and engineers were unreservedly delighted with this very impressive measure. “Of course it’s a big day for us”, explains Jörg Wenniger, main coordinator of the LHC and the beam team.
A progress that leaves you wondering about its potential. And there is reason to be enthusiastic, knowing that this record is only a small introduction. Indeed, these measurements are part of the instrument validation process. Once CERN’s engineers and physicists have made sure that each of the millions of elements that make up the LHC are working as intended, then they can get to the heart of the matter.
A third cycle that starts under the best auspices
The LHC will then officially begin its third operating cycle. It will last four years during which the LHC will multiply experiments at the forefront of particle physics. Over this period, the two LHC detectors (ATLAS and the CMS) will thus be able to observe more collisions than in the entire first two cumulative cycles.
This will allow physicists to look even more precisely at the superheated clouds of subatomic particles produced during these collisions, and by extension, to understand the interactions of matter at the most fundamental level. A prospect that is all the more exciting in that it often involves phenomena that are still very mysterious… or even still completely unknown. In any case, this is what Boston University explained when it announced the return to service (see our article).
”During a collision, fundamentally different particles emerge which apparently have nothing to do with the basic objects. It’s like seeing a chair and a sink emerge from a collision between two cars“, detailed the institution. So all you have to do is wait for this gem of technology to produce new results with fascinating implications, particularly with regard to the search for the famous “Theory of Everything” dreamed of by Einstein (see our article).