The collider, which began operations in February 2010 after several months of calibration and minor troubleshooting, completed its first “operating year” in December of that same year and was shut down until mid-February 2011. Last year, the accelerator operated at half energy – 3.5 teraelectronvolts per beam, while the design energy is 7 teraelectronvolts per beam. The collider will operate on this energy in 2011 as well.
Scientists began testing equipment and preparing the accelerator for launch after the holidays in mid-February. The collider was again cooled to an operating temperature of 1.9 kelvin, and on February 19, proton beams began to circulate in it again.
On Tuesday night, the energy of the proton beams was increased for the first time after the holidays to 3.5 teraelectronvolts per beam. While the luminosity of the beams – the number of protons per second – is relatively low, only 10 to the 10th power of particles per second per square centimeter (the nominal luminosity is about 10 to the 32nd power of particles). However, scientists will gradually increase the luminosity by concentrating the beam using special collimator devices.
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