Large Hadron Collider resumes operations
4 July 2018
Scientists operating the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have successfully re-started the 27-km-long particle accelerator after its winter hibernation, beginning a new season of data taking for 2018, its seventh year of operation.
The LHC is operated by approximately 10,000 researchers and engineers at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research), located in Geneva, Switzerland. It accelerates large numbers of protons, one of the particles within the atomic nucleus, to velocities near the speed of light and travelling in opposite directions.
Each beam contains 2,556 “bunches” comprising 120 billion protons. These beams are focused to collide at a fixed point where their energy is converted to mass, producing a shower of particles. These particle showers are observed by several particle detectors in order to study the complex series of interactions that created them.
The detectors feature superconducting electromagnets which guide the particles generated from the collisions into concentric rings of particle detectors and energy measurement devices. In turn, these collect huge amounts of data that are analysed by clusters of supercomputers to reconstruct the physical events within the experiment.
The collider and its auxiliary systems are deactivated each winter to facilitate maintenance and upgrade work. This infrastructure was gradually reactivated, extensively tested, and ramped up to its full operating performance, culminating in this year’s first scientifically useful collisions at the end of April.