After the Large Hadron Collider’s two year long absence, physicists at CERN rebooted the system and began smashing protons together in the new and improved collider. Soon after its reboot, the Hadron Collider was already breaking records by achieving never-before-seen energies.
Protons were zipping through the 17-mile-long collider, smashing into one and other at an energy of 13 TeV (tera-electronvolts). The repairs and upgrades worth billions of dollars seem to have paid off as scientists are now able to cause collisions at twice the speeds that the LHC has previously capable of.
CERN released images of these test collisions on May 21st.
But particles travelling at such high speeds also involve possible risk. Collisions may cause some protons to change their trajectory, so the scientists at CERN wanted to ensure that the delicate magnets and sensors the LHC is equipped with aren’t harmed.
These first collisions were aimed at properly configuring safety systems named collimators, which efficiently protect the LHC’s detectors from stray particles. Essentially, collimators are large metal blocks which protect the equipment that would otherwise be damaged if hit by stray protons.
“If [protons] don’t have the right energy, they float outside [the main beam, and] they go around in a little bit bigger circle,” Greg Rakness, CMS experiment coordinator explains.
Physicists conducting experiments with the help of the Large Hadron Collider often smash anywhere between 100 billion to 1,000 billion protons together at high speeds, so the odds that some go astray are high.
After these initial test runs, the LHC is prepared to begin collecting data in early June. A number of experiments are scheduled to commence then. ATLAS and CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) are the largest of these experiments. They aim to investigate “the largest range of physics possible.”
Physicists gather information about collision points, momentum, particle energy and particle paths so that each individual particle can be individually identified. What’s special about ATLAS is that it uses a “trigger” system so as to analyze whether specific events are worth recording or not.
CMS, on the other hand, focuses on studying the Standard Model and attempting to identify those particles which could make up dark matter. Both ATLAS and CMS have the same scientific goals, however each experiment uses distinct sets of technical solutions and employ different magnet designs.
In the meantime, LHCb and CMS researchers have put their experiment data together and have stumbled across a rare subatomic process: Bs particle decay.
“Many theories that propose to extend the Standard Model also predict an increase in this Bs decay rate,” Joe Butler, CMS researcher explains.
Whether scientists will finally be able to crack the mysteries of our universe remains to be seen, however, the new and improved Hadron Collider should provide tons of data to start them off.
Image Source: datamanager.it
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