CERN has confirmed that during the last weekends two of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments have successfully sent proton beams through the particle accelerator. This is the first full test of operation that marks the beginning of the last phase of restart after the equipment upgrade made during the last two years. The test, conducted by the LHCb (Large Hadron Collider beauty) and ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) experiment was a success.
If everything continues to work properly, these tests will represent the completion of the restart of the LHC started in April 2014. The large accelerator is actually the final element of a series of accelerators in which particles get accelerated to higher and higher energies until they’re injected into the LHC. After the final acceleration, their speed is close to that of light and the energies are extremely high.
It’s for this reason that all the pieces of equipment must work together perfectly. A problem in one of the accelerators could cause serious damage so every accelerator was tested before being connected to the next one and inject particles in it.
Finally, after almost a year of extensive testing, the first proton beams were injected into the LHC. These injection tests created what are called splash events in which particles emerge from collisions between protons and a block positioned to halt their beams. They went through three of the eight sectors of the LHC, a little more than 10 km of the total 27 km of the giant ring.
This is only the first step towards resuming the experiments but if there are no problems, at this point they have just a few weeks to wait. Slowly, the energy will be increased to 14 tera electron volt, the maximum possible for the LHC.
In recent years, the LHC was used among other things to prove the existence of the Higgs boson. After the updates that allow it to work at much higher energies, scientists will try to discover the secrets of dark matter. In the next few yearsit could solve other mysteries of the universe with a further leap forward for physics.