07 April 2012

CERN News: Large Hadron Collider Achieve Record Energy Collision of 8 TeV

It was announced by CERN in early 2012 that the LHC will run with a beam energy of 4 TeV. That is 0.5 TeV higher than the previous two years of LHC experiments. This decision was taken by CERN management following the annual performance workshop held in Chamonix last week and a report delivered today by the external CERN Machine Advisory Committee (CMAC).

An electron volt (eV) is a measure of amount of energy gained by the charge of a single electron moved across an electric potential difference of one volt. One trillion electron volts is called a teraelectronvolt or simply a TeV.

The exact measurement of a Tev in is 1 teraelectron volt = 1.60217646 ×10-7 joules.

Why is the amount of energy or TeVs important to using the Large Hadron Collider? Based on Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, E=MC2, energy is the product of mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. By colliding particles running at the speed of light in the LHC and measuring the energy released, the LHC can detect fluctuations in energy that may signify a particle most particularly the Higgs Boson. By measuring the energy released, one can deduce the mass of the escaping particles.

LHC physics data taking gets underway at new record collision energy of 8TeV

At 05 April 2012, 0:38 CEST, the LHC shift crew declared ‘stable beams’ as two 4 TeV proton beams were brought into collision at the LHC’s four interaction points. This signals the start of physics data taking by the LHC experiments for 2012. The collision energy of 8 TeV is a new world record, and increases the machine’s discovery potential considerably.

“The experience of two good years of running at 3.5 TeV per beam gave us the confidence to increase the energy for this year without any significant risk to the machine,” explained CERN1’s Director for Accelerators and Technology, Steve Myers. “Now it’s over to the experiments to make the best of the increased discovery potential we’re delivering them!”

Although the increase in collision energy is relatively modest, it translates to an increased discovery potential that can be several times higher for certain hypothetical particles. Some such particles, for example those predicted by supersymmetry, would be produced much more copiously at the higher energy. Supersymetry is a theory in particle physics that goes beyond the current Standard Model, and could account for the dark matter of the Universe.

Video: CERN News - Physics restarts in the LHC at new record energy

Standard Model Higgs particles, if they exist, will also be produced more copiously at 8 TeV than at 7 TeV, but background processes that mimic the Higgs signal will also increase. That means that the full year’s running will still be necessary to convert the tantalising hints seen in 2011 into a discovery, or to rule out the Standard Model Higgs particle altogether.

“The increase in energy is all about maximising the discovery potential of the LHC,” said CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci. “And in that respect, 2012 looks set to be a vintage year for particle physics.”

The LHC is now scheduled to run until the end of 2012, when it will go into its first long shutdown in preparation for running at an energy of 6.5 TeV per beam as of late 2014, with the ultimate goal of ramping up to the full design energy of 7 TeV.


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