A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

LHC achieves record-energy collisions

05/21/15

The Large Hadron Collider broke its own record again in 13-trillion-electronvolt test collisions.

Photo of 13 TeV screens
Maximilien Brice, CERN

Today engineers at the Large Hadron Collider successfully collided several tightly packed bunches of particles at 13 trillion electronvolts. This is one of the last important steps on the way toward data collection, which is scheduled for early June.

As engineers ramp up the energy of the collider, the positions of the beams of particles change. The protons are also focused into much tighter packets, so getting two bunches to actually intersect requires very precise tuning.

“Colliding protons inside the LHC is equivalent to firing two needles 6 miles apart with such precision that they collide halfway,” says Syracuse University physicist Sheldon Stone, a senior researcher on the LHCb experiment. “It takes a lot of testing to make sure the two bunches meet at the right spot and do not miss each other.”

Engineers spent the last two years outfitting the LHC to collide protons at a higher energy and faster rate than ever before. Last month they successfully circulated low-energy protons around the LHC for the first time since the shutdown. Five days later, they broke their own energy record by ramping up the energy of a single proton beam to 6.5 trillion electronvolts.

High-energy test collisions allow engineers to practice steering beams in the LHC.

“We have to find the positions where the two beams cross, so what we do is steer the beams up and down and left and right until we get the optimal collision rate,” says CERN engineer Ronaldus SuykerBuyk of the operations team.

In addition to finding the collision sweet spots, engineers will also use these tests to finish calibrating the machine components and positioning the collimators, which protect the accelerator and detectors from stray particles.

The design of the LHC allows more than 2800 bunches of protons to circulate in the machine at a time. But the LHC operations team is testing the machine with just one or two bunches per beam to ensure all is running smoothly.

The next important milestone will be preparing the LHC to consistently and safely ramp, steer and collide proton beams for up to eight consecutive hours.

Declaring stable beams will be only the beginning for the LHC operations team.

"The machine evolves around you," says CERN engineer Jorg Wenninger. "There are little changes over the months. There’s the reproducibility of the magnets. And the alignment of the machine moves a little with the slow-changing geology of the area. So we keep adjusting every day."

Image of ALICE 13 TeV

First 13 TeV collisions in the ALICE detector

ALICE collaboration
Image of ATLAS 13 TeV

First 13 TeV collisions in the ATLAS detector

ATLAS collaboration
Image of CMS 13 TeV

First 13 TeV collisions in the CMS detector

CMS collaboration
Image of LHCb 13 TeV

First 13 TeV collisions in the LHCb detector

LHCb collaboration

 

LHC restart timeline

February 2015
LHC Magnets Cooled

The Large Hadron Collider is now cooled to nearly its operational temperature.

Info-Graphic by Sandbox Studio, Chicago
 

LHC filled with liquid helium

The Large Hadron Collider is now cooled to nearly its operational temperature.
Read more…
LHC Magnets Powered

A first set of superconducting magnets has passed the test and is ready for the Large Hadron Collider to restart in spring.

Info-Graphic by Sandbox Studio, Chicago
 

First LHC magnets prepped for restart

A first set of superconducting magnets has passed the test and is ready for the Large Hadron Collider to restart in spring. Read more…
LHC Experiments Ready

Engineers and technicians have begun to close experiments in preparation for the next run.

Info-Graphic by Sandbox Studio, Chicago
 

LHC experiments prep for restart

Engineers and technicians have begun to close experiments in preparation for the next run.
Read more…
March 2015
LHC accelerator ready

The Large Hadron Collider has overcome a technical hurdle and could restart as early as next week.

Info-Graphic by Sandbox Studio, Chicago
 

LHC restart back on track

The Large Hadron Collider has overcome a technical hurdle and could restart as early as next week. Read more…
April 2015
First beam seen at LHC

The Large Hadron Collider has circulated the first protons, ending a two-year shutdown.

Info-Graphic by Sandbox Studio, Chicago
 

LHC sees first beams

The Large Hadron Collider has circulated the first protons, ending a two-year shutdown. Read more…
energy record broken at LHC

The Large Hadron Collider accelerated protons to the fastest speed ever attained on Earth.

Info-Graphic by Sandbox Studio, Chicago
 

LHC breaks energy record

The Large Hadron Collider accelerated protons to the fastest speed ever attained on Earth.
Read more…
May 2015
Low-Energy Collisions seen at the LHC

LHC sees first low-energy collisions

Info-Graphic by Sandbox Studio, Chicago
 

LHC sees first low-energy collisions

The Large Hadron Collider is back in the business of colliding particles.
Read more…
record-energy collisions achieved at the LHC

The Large Hadron Collider broke its own record again in 13-trillion-electronvolt test collisions.

Info-Graphic by Sandbox Studio, Chicago
 

LHC achieves record-energy collisions

The Large Hadron Collider broke its own record again in 13-trillion-electronvolt test collisions.
Read more…
June 2015
LHC Collisions for Physics

Data collection has officially begun at the Large Hadron Collider.

Info-Graphic by Sandbox Studio, Chicago
 

LHC arrives at the next energy frontier

Data collection has officially begun at the Large Hadron Collider.
Read more…

 

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