The Large Hadron Collider has set a new record: its most recent trials have smashed particles with more energy than ever before.
On Wednesday night, two beams of protons were guided into each other at four collision points distributed around the Large Hadron Collider’s tunnel. The energy which emerged from the collisions was 13 trillion electronvolts, a figure which smashed the eight trillion level from the Large Hadron Collider’s first run, that finished in early 2013. “Physics collisions” start in June.
At that point, the beams will have many more “bunches” of protons. According to the scientists, there will be up to 2,800 compared to the one or two which are circulating. The experiments will be more varied, with all detectors working to to find out all the exotic, unknown particles of debris that emerge out of proton smashing at these new energy levels.
For now, the collisions are just a part of the testing process which is meant to take all into consideration and that nothing goes wrong when the Large Hadron Collider goes into that full “collision factory” phase.
“We begin by bringing the beams into collision at 13 TeV (teraelectronvolts), and adjusting their orbits to collide them head-on,” said Ronaldus Suykerbuyk from the operations team at Cern, the organisation based near Geneva in Switzerland that runs the Large Hadron Collider.
The huge machinery has been under a planned two-year refit, after the end of its first run – which produced, back in 2012, the first evidence for the Higgs boson. Scientists are awaiting to see the collider winding back up again, even if it is a very incremental process.
In early April, twin proton beams went trough the Large Hadron Collider’s 27km ring, located 30 stores under the Swiss-French border, for the first time in more than two years. This run was at a preliminary, lower energy, while five days later the energy got to 6.5 TeV per beam.
The first collisions that happened in early May were also at a lower, safer energy to start with. Thursday’s collisions are different.
Prof David Newbold, from the University of Bristol, is currently working on the CMS experiment. He explained the new energies pose new technical challenges.
“When you accelerate the beams, they actually get quite a lot smaller – so the act of actually getting them to collide inside the detectors is really quite an important technical step,” Prof Newbold said for BBC News.
Image Source: News Scientist