Large Hadron Collider Smashes Protons at Record Energy Levels (PICS)

Last night, the LHC smashed protons together at the record-breaking energy of 13 teraelectronvolts (TeV). And, these collisions were just tests for what’s coming later.

The collisions will help set up systems designed to protect the machine and detectors from stray particles.

Collimators are specifically designed to absorb particles that stray from the edges of the beam. The tests being conducted will give CERN engineers the data they need to make sure the powerful magnets are protected during future experiments.

“When the positioning of all collimators has been validated the LHC will switch over to production mode,” says Jorg Wenninger, a member of the LHC Operations team, “and become a ‘collision factory’, delivering data to experiments.”

Tests will continue today and for the rest of the month. The real fun begins in early June when LHC’s second run officially begins.

CERN released four images of the protons colliding at 13 TeV. Each image is from a different detector around the LHC.

ALICE proton collision

From the ALICE detector

CMS proton collision

From the CMS detector

ATLAS proton collision

From the ATLAS detector

LHCb proton collision

From the LHCb detector

For now, tests at the LHC continue. Declaring “stable beams” will be one milestone officials hope to reach in the coming weeks.

“We’re still working on the injection chain to the LHC, and finalising the collimators,” says Wenninger. “And the machine evolves around you. There are little changes over the months. There’s the alignment of the machine, which moves a little with the slow-changing geology of the area. So we keep adjusting every day.”

What will researchers be looking for in the second run of the LHC?

CERN gives an outline of what researchers will be looking for starting early next month. Researchers will be conducting experiments for everything ranging from The Higgs boson to antimatter and dark matter.

CERN on The Higgs boson:

Increasing the energy of the LHC will increase the chance of creating Higgs bosons in collisions, which means more opportunity for researchers to measure the Higgs precisely and to probe its rarer decays. High-energy collisions could detect small, subtle differences between what the boson looks like in experiments, and what the Standard Model predicts.

Some researchers will even be looking for evidence of extra dimensions.

CERN on Extra Dimensions:

Theories that require extra dimensions predict that, just as atoms have a low-energy ground state and excited high-energy states, there would be heavier versions of standard particles in other dimensions. Such heavy particles could be revealed at the high energies the LHC will reach in Run 2.

You can keep up with each experiment by following their Twitter accounts.


Image credits: CERN