After two years of intense maintenance, consolidation and preparation, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, was restarted on Sunday.
The machine had been shut for two years for a refit. Hopes for the second run lie in breaking out of what is known as the Standard Model of how the universe works at the level of elementary particles, and into "New Physics".
During the last run, from 2010 to 2013, physicists tracked down the legendary Higgs boson particle after years of searching in the recorded debris from particle collisions at CERN and in other smaller colliders.
According to Standard Model, all particles acquire mass through their interaction with another particle called the Higgs particle ( popularly called the God Particle), named after the British physicist Peter Higgs.
Indian contributions to the construction of LHC includes the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) and ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) Experiments and the development of the LHC Computing Grid.
According to CERN, at 10.41 am on Sunday, a proton beam was back in the 27-kilometer ring, followed at 12.27pm by a second beam rotating in the opposite direction. These beams circulated at their injection energy of 450 GeV. Over the coming days, operators will check all systems before increasing energy of the beams.
"Operating accelerators for the benefit of the physics community is what CERN’s here for,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. "Today, CERN’s heart beats once more to the rhythm of the LHC.”
"The return of beams to the LHC rewards a lot of intense, hard work from many teams of people," said Head of CERN’s Beam Department, Paul Collier. "It’s very satisfying for our operators to be back in the driver’s seat, with what’s effectively a new accelerator to bring on-stream, carefully, step by step.”
After entering its second season of operation, the LHC will operate at unprecedented energy - almost double that of season 1 - at 6.5 TeV per beam.
Scientists are preparing for particle-smashing collisions expected to start in June, though any new discoveries made are unlikely to emerge until mid-2016.
With inputs from Reuters