Context: The third season of operations for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) started on 22 April 2022. The LHC is set to run for close to four years at a record energy of 13.6 trillion electronvolts (TeV).
What are Hadrons?
- Hadrons are defined as subatomic particles which are composed of two or three fundamental particles known as quarks, which are held together by strong interaction (strong Nuclear force). E.g., Protons, Neutrons.
- Sub-atomic particles are the smallest known units of matter and the building blocks of all things.
Large Hadron Collider
- Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) built LHC between 1998 and 2008 in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists from hundreds of universities and laboratories.
- It lies in a tunnel 27 kilometres in circumference and as deep as 175 metres beneath the France-Switzerland border near Geneva.
- Inside LHC, two high-energy particle beams of protons are directed at each other at nearly the speed of light and made to collide in the 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets.
- They are guided around the accelerator ring by a strong magnetic field maintained by superconducting electromagnets.
- The magnetic field created by the superconducting electromagnets keeps the protons in a tight beam and guides them along the way as they travel through beam pipes.
- These collisions generate new particles and using detectors scientists study their properties and interactions, providing insights into the fundamental laws of the universe.
- CERN’s DATA Centre stores more than 30 petabytes of data per year from LHC experiments which are used to study fundamental particles, dark matter, dark energy and laws of Physics.
- The ATLAS and CMS detectors helped discover the Higgs boson in 2012 and confirmed their findings in 2013.
- LHC has not been able to find — ‘new physics’, the collective name for particles or processes that can explain the nature of dark matter or why gravity is such a weak force, among other mysteries.
- The LHC has tested some of the predictions of theories that try to explain what the Standard Model can not and has found them inadequate/ incomplete.
- It is being planned to improve the LHC’s luminosity (a measure of the machine’s ability to produce particle interactions of interest) by 10x by 2027 through upgrades.
- Also, it is envisioned to build a bigger version of the LHC, based on the hypothesis that such a machine will be able to find ‘new physics’ at even higher energies.