The Large Hadron Collider is up again today (July 5) and is designed to smash particles together at energy levels never seen before.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. Located in CERN Near Geneva, Switzerland, the 17-mile (27 kilometer) loop is up and running today after spending four years offline for upgrades. With those repairs complete, scientists want to use the giant accelerator to smash together protons with record energies of up to 13.6 trillion electronvolts (TeV) — an energy level that should raise the odds of the accelerator producing particles yet to be observed by science. .
Accelerator particle beam upgrades have more than increased their power range; Increasing the level of compression, making the beams more dense with particles, will increase the probability of a collision so much that the accelerator is expected to pick up more particle interactions on its third spin than it did in its two previous experiments combined. During the previous two periods, from 2009 to 2013 and from 2015 to 2018, corn Smasher has advanced physicists’ understanding of how the building blocks of matter interact – called Standard Form It led to the long-awaited discovery Higgs bosonThe elusive particle that gives all matter its mass.
But, despite accelerator experiments, which have produced 3,000 scientific papers on many small discoveries and intriguing hints of deeper physics, scientists have yet to find conclusive evidence of new particles or entirely new physics. After this upgrade, they hope that will change.
“We will measure the strengths of the Higgs boson interactions with matter and force the particles to unprecedented precision, and we will continue our search for the Higgs boson to decay. dark matter In addition to searching for additional Higgs bosons,” Andreas Hooker, spokesperson for the Large Hadron Collider Atlas cooperationan international project involving physicists, engineers, technicians, students and support staff, he said in a statement (Opens in a new tab).
Inside the LHC’s 17-mile underground loop, protons move at close to the speed of light before they collide with each other. Results? New and sometimes strange particles form. The faster those protons go, the higher their energy. The higher the energy, the greater the mass of molecules you can produce by smashing them together. Corn crushers such as the LHC detect potential new particles by looking for telltale decay products, since heavier particles are usually short-lived and immediately decompose into lighter particles.
One of the LHC’s goals is to further scrutinize the Standard Model, the mathematical framework that physicists use to describe all the fundamental particles known in the world. Universe and the forces with which they interact. Although the model has been around in its final form since the mid-1970s, physicists are far from satisfied with it and are constantly looking for new ways to test it and, if lucky, discover new physics that will fail.
This is because the model, despite being the most comprehensive and accurate to date, has huge gaps, making it completely unable to explain where the strength of gravity Who, of what dark matter is made of, or why there is so much more matter than Antimatter in the universe.
While physicists want to use the upgraded accelerator to examine the rules of the Standard Model and learn more about the Higgs boson, upgrades to the LHC’s four main detectors also put it in a good position to search for physics beyond what is already known. The LHCs’ main detectors – ATLAS and CMS – have been upgraded to collect more than twice the data they did before on their new mission to search for particles that can persist across two collisions; And the LHCb detector, which now collects 10 times more data than it did before, will look for breaks in the fundamental symmetries of the universe and for explanations of why the universe contains more matter than antimatter.
Meanwhile, the ALICE detector will be run to study high-energy ion collisions, which will have a 50-fold increase in those recorded compared to previous runs. When smashing the ions together, the ions – atomic nuclei that give off an electric charge by removing electrons from their orbital shell – produce a primordial subatomic soup called quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter that only existed during the first microseconds after the great explosion.
In addition to these research efforts, a group of smaller groups will investigate the roots of other physical mysteries through experiments that will study the interiors of protons. behavior investigation cosmic rays; And the search for a long theoretical magnetic monopole, a hypothetical particle that is an isolated magnet with only one magnetic pole. Added to these are two new experiments, called FASER (Advanced Search Experiment) and SND (Scattering and Neutrino Detector), which were made possible by the installation of two new detectors while the accelerator was recently shut down. FASER will search for highly light and weakly interacting particles, such as neutrinos and dark matter, and SND will search exclusively for neutrinosThey are ghostly particles that can travel through most matter without interacting with it.
One particle physicist particularly excited to look for it is the long-awaited axon, a strange hypothetical particle that does not emit, absorb or reflect light, and is a prime suspect in what dark matter is made of.
This third round of the LHC is scheduled to last four years. After that time, the collisions will stop again for further upgrades that will push the Collider to even higher levels of power. Once upgraded and operational again in 2029, the LHC’s high-luminosity collider is expected to capture 10 times the data of the previous three cycles combined.
Originally published on Live Science.