As the saying goes, you can't keep a good particle accelerator down. In Switzerland, CERN has announced that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is back online after a major overhaul and refit. This power-up of the most powerful particle accelerator in the world marks the culmination of two years of work and months of testing, resulting in a significant boost in performance for the giant collider's "season 2."
According to CERN, on Sunday at 10:41 am CEST, a proton beam with an injection energy of 450 GeV was fired into the 27-km (16.7-mi) ring and a second rotating in the opposite direction was established at 12:27 pm. The LHC now has almost double the power it had before the upgrade, with 6.5 TeV per beam. At least 13 TeV proton-proton collisions are expected later this year.
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The overhaul involved consolidating 10,000 electrical interconnections between the ring's superconducting electromagnets, the addition of magnet protection systems, and upgraded cryogenics, ultrahigh vacuum systems, and electronics. In addition, the ring has been reconfigured so that subatomic particles bunch in such a way that the time separating them has been reduced from 50 nanoseconds to 25 nanoseconds, to increase the chances of collisions.
CERN says that over the next few days the energy in the beams will be maintained as engineers carry out system checks. As the LHC enters its second season of scientific work, it will investigate the Standard Model of particle physics, the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism, dark matter, antimatter, and quark-gluon plasma.
The video below discusses the improved LHC.