The LHC is the largest particle collider to date. Built in a 17 mile long circular tunnel in Switzerland it helps scientists study high-energy particle physics by accelerating beams of protons or lead nuclei to high velocities, thus achieving the high energy state and then smashing them into each other.
The LHC was brought online in September 2008 and since then it has operated with particle beams of energies of up to 4 TeV (teraelectronvolts). It achieved collisions between protons and lead nuclei, lead-lead collisions and the most used research method, proton-proton collisions.
In February 2013 the LHC was shut down in order to prepare the transition to the proton beams generation with energies as high as 7TeV and a much higher luminosity.
After the LHC was started again in March 2015, a series of tests followed which allowed, on the 5th of April 2015, for the acceleration of the particle beams close to the maximum rated energy, from the natural state of the proton, which means a kinetic energy of about 206 MeV up to 6.5 TeV (almost 31500 times more).
All these preparations culminated with the detection, on the 20th of May 2015, of a particles collision with a combined energy of about 13TeV.
To put things in perspective, 1TeV is about the same as the kinetic energy required by a mosquito to keep itself in flight.
But here we are talking about particles which are 13 orders of magnitude or about 10 trillion times smaller and travel at the speed of light going around the LHC main ring 11000 times per second.
The news is important because, as the energy of the particles increases, the chance of detecting exotic particles as a result of direct collisions improves and in the future it is possible that new composite particles or even elementary particles are discovered, just as it happened with the Xb(3P) bottomonium meson, discovered in December 2011 and the Higgs boson, detected in July 2012.
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