Late yesterday, CERN scientists made history by using the most powerful particle accelerator in the world to hurl beams of protons together at the record-breaking energy of 13 TeV (tera-electronvolts) — a full 5 TeV higher than the previous standard.
Top image: Protons collide at 13 TeV sending showers of particles through the ALICE detector. Image: ALICE, Caption: CERN.
The record was set during a trial of the upgraded system, so no new scientific data outside of this test emerged. CERN is currently preparing the Large Hadron Collider for its second run of experiments following two years’ worth of upgrades. Over the next few weeks it’s hoped that “stable beams” can be established, a sign that new particle smashing experiments can begin.
Protons collide at 13 TeV sending showers of particles through the CMS detector. Image: CMS, Caption: CERN.
During the test, two opposing beams of protons were hurled towards each other at the four collision points — ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb — located within the LHC’s 16.8 mile-long (27 km-long) circular tunnel. The energy of the collisions was measured at 13 trillion electrovolts. For comparison, the highest energy recorded during Hadron’s first phase was 8 trillion electrovolts.
Yesterday’s test was designed to protect the LHC and its detectors from particles that stray from the edges of the beam. More tests will be conducted today to determine if it’s safe to proceed.
Protons collide at 13 TeV sending showers of particles through the ATLAS detector. Image: ATLAS, Caption: CERN.
These dramatically higher energy levels will allow CERN scientists to generate larger particles, which will hopefully reveal new physical phenomena.
Protons collide at 13 TeV sending showers of particles through the LHCb detector. Image: LHCb, Caption: CERN.
“These 13 TeV data allow us to work on further improving the ATLAS detector readiness, following the recent 900 GeV collisions,” noted ATLAS spokesperson Dave Charlton at the CERN website. “The higher energies mean that we expect more active and energetic events, which will let us probe more deeply into the detector.”
If all goes well, the second phase of experiments will commence in early June.