The Run 3 research campaign of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has successfully started

13.6 TeV collisions detected by the LHC ATLAS experiment (Image courtesy ATLAS Collaboration/CERN)
13.6 TeV collisions detected by the LHC ATLAS experiment (Image courtesy ATLAS Collaboration/CERN)

CERN announced that yesterday when it was afternoon in Switzerland, the detectors of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) began detecting collisions between particles at an energy that reached 13.6 TeV (Tera-electronVolts). These are energy levels never reached before, which mark the beginning of Run 3, the third LHC research campaign.

At the end of April, after the Long Shutdown 2, the period of more than three years in which the LHC equipment was updated, the slow restart of the largest particle accelerator in the world began. The detectors and other systems of the LHC experiments were updated as well to increase the quantity and quality of data that will be collected in the new research campaign.

The long restart phase with the equipment tests was successfully completed. Immediately after the tenth anniversary of the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson, it was possible to start Run 3 bringing the energy of the collisions up to 13.6 TeV. The Higgs boson will continue to be the subject of study in this new research campaign but there are many other objectives as well.

Yesterday, the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) Collaboration, which runs one of four big LHC experiments, announced the observation of three new particles: a new type of pentaquark, made up of 5 quarks, and a pair of tetraquarks, two particles made up of 4 quarks each. In short, the first results of Run 3 arrived even before its official start, during the testing phase.

Predicting the results of the research that will be conducted in this new campaign is difficult. Tests of physical models and in particular the so-called Standard Model could offer surprises with unpredictable consequences. Often the boundary between particle physics and astrophysics is vague since the results obtained with LHC can also have consequences in cosmological studies, for example in the one concerning dark matter. Possible links between the cosmic and submicroscopic scales make this type of study significant for researchers engaged in various branches of physics.

The celebration that followed the successful start of Run 3 is understandable considering the high expectations that exist for this research campaign. The discoveries will bring advances in our understanding of the universe and could mark the field of physics for many years.

Celebrations at the CERN control centre (CCC) to mark the start of LHC Run 3 (Photo courtesy CERN)
Celebrations at the CERN control centre (CCC) to mark the start of LHC Run 3 (Photo courtesy CERN)

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