The Large Hadron Collider re-ignited today (July 5) and is expected 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 CERN Near Geneva, Switzerland, the 17-mile (27 kilometer) loop launched today after spending four years offline making upgrades. Once those repairs are complete, scientists want to use the giant accelerator to smash protons to record energies of up to 13.6 trillion electronvolts (TeV) — an energy level that should increase the chances that the accelerator will produce particles that science has yet to notice. .
Improvements to the accelerator particle beams did more than just increase their energy range; Increasing the level of compression, making the beams more dense for particles, would increase the probability of a collision to the point that the accelerator would have 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, it was corn Smasher has advanced physicists’ understanding of how the building blocks of matter – called Standard Form – Led to the discovery of Long Forecast 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 exciting hints of deeper physics, scientists have yet to find conclusive evidence of new particles or entirely new physics. After this update, they hope that will change.
“We will measure the forces of the Higgs boson interactions with matter and quantify particles with unprecedented precision, and we will continue our research into the decay of the Higgs boson until black matter particles as well as searching for extra Higgs bosons,” Andreas Höcker, LHC spokesperson 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 27 km underground ring, protons travel at nearly the speed of light before the collision. The result? New and sometimes strange particles form. The faster these protons, the higher their energy. The higher the energy, the greater the mass of particles they can produce when they collide. Corn cutters like the LHC detect potential new particles by looking for telltale decay products, because heavier particles usually have a short lifespan and immediately decompose into lighter particles.
One of the LHC’s goals is to develop the Standard Model, the mathematical framework that physicists use to describe all the fundamental particles known in the 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 they are lucky, discover new physics that will lead to its failure.
Indeed, the model, despite being the most comprehensive and accurate to date, has enormous shortcomings, making it completely unable to explain the source of its strength. gravity Where does dark matter come from, 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 LHC’s main detectors – ATLAS and CMS – have been upgraded to collect more than twice the data they previously collected in their new mission to search for particles that can persist through two collisions; And the LHCb detector, which now collects 10 times more data than before, will look for breaks in the fundamental symmetries of the universe and explanations for why the universe contains more matter than antimatter.
During this time, the ALICE detector will be turned on to study high-energy ion collisions, the number of which will increase by 50 times compared to previous runs. When smashed together, ions – atomic nuclei electrically charged by removing electrons from their orbital shell – produce a primitive subatomic soup called quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter that existed only for the first microsecond after the great explosion.
In addition to these research efforts, many small groups will investigate the roots of other mysteries in physics through experiments looking into the interior of protons. behavior investigation cosmic rays; And look for a theoretical long magnetic monopole, a hypothetical particle that is an isolated magnet with only one magnetic pole. In addition, two new experiments, called FASER (Forward Search Experiment) and SND (Scattering and Neutrino Detector), are made possible by the installation of two new detectors during the last shutdown of the accelerator. FASER will search for highly luminous and weakly interacting particles, such as neutrinos and dark matter, and will search exclusively for SND neutrinosGhost particles that can pass through most matter without interacting with it.
Particle physicists are particularly excited about the search for axion, a strange hypothetical particle that does not emit, absorb or reflect light, and is the prime suspect in the formation of dark matter.
The third round of the LHC must last for four years. After this time, the collisions will be stopped again for further upgrades that will push the LHC to higher energy levels. When upgraded and brought back into service in 2029, the LHC’s high-luminosity collider is expected to capture 10 times more data than the previous three cycles combined.
Originally published on Live Science.
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