Unraveling the secrets of matter a little more: this is the objective of the LHC at CERN in Geneva.

Ten years after its discovery of the Higgs boson, the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world restarts this Tuesday at a record collision energy.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was restarted in April, after a technical shutdown of three years, for maintenance work and to improve its production and particle detection.

It will operate at its full collision power of 13.6 trillion electron volts (TeV) for four years, officials from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced in a press briefing last week. .

1.6 billion collisions per second

Its two beams of protons, accelerated to a speed close to that of light, will circulate in opposite directions in the 27 km ring, buried 100 meters underground at the Franco-Swiss border.

The detectors of several experiments (in particular ATLAS, CMS, ALICE and LHCb) will then record the collisions of protons, which produce ephemeral particles explaining the functioning of matter.

“We are aiming for a rate of 1.6 billion proton-proton collisions per second for the ATLAS and CMS experiments,” said Mike Lamont, director of accelerators and technology at CERN, on Thursday.

The more violent these collisions, the more they make it possible to “break” the particles to identify their components and their interactions.

#LHCRun3, it's the big day!

Just yesterday, the 4 #LHC experiments were preparing to receive the 1st collisions at the record energy of 13.6 TeV.

With at the 1st lodges Gaëlle Boudoul (CMS) and Yasmine Amhis (LHCb) #FranceAtCERN 👏 See you



at 4 p.m. for the live!

https://t.co/MIidyBCLT5 pic.twitter.com/uVxHaHTDyl

– IN2P3 The 2 infinities (@IN2P3_CNRS) July 5, 2022


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The Higgs boson, a major discovery

The world temple of the infinitely small, built in 2008, led to the discovery of the Higgs boson, announced exactly ten years ago by Fabiola Gianotti, then coordinator of the CMS experiment and now director general of CERN.

"The Higgs boson is linked to some of the deepest questions in fundamental physics, from the structure and shape of the Universe to how other particles organize themselves," according to the researcher.

His discovery revolutionized physics, confirming the prediction of researchers who had made it, nearly 50 years earlier, a centerpiece of the Standard Model of particle physics (SM).

The Higgs boson is the manifestation of a field, that is to say a space, which gives mass to elementary particles forming matter.

The researchers were able to flush it out thanks to the analysis of around 1.2 billion billion collisions of protons between them.

The third run of the LHC which opens on Tuesday will multiply this figure by twenty.

“It's a significant increase that opens the way to new discoveries,” notes Mike Lamont.

Still secrets to deliver

Because the Higgs boson has not revealed all its secrets.

Starting with its nature.

"Is it a fundamental particle or a composite", ie an assembly of several particles still unknown, questions Joachim Mnich, Director of Research and Computing at Cern.

Better, “is this the only existing Higgs particle or are there others?

»

Nine experiments will thus take advantage of the production of particles from the accelerator.

Like ALICE, which studies the primordial plasma of matter that prevailed in the first ten microseconds after the Big Bang.

Or LHCf, which simulates cosmic rays.

The next stage of the large collider will come after the third pause, in 2029, with its transition to “high luminosity”, which will multiply by ten the number of detectable events.

Beyond that, Cern researchers are looking towards the Future Circular Collider (FCC) project, a 100 km ring whose feasibility study is expected at the end of 2025. “It will be the ultimate machine for studying the Higgs boson, which is a very powerful tool for understanding fundamental physics,” concluded Fabiola Gianotti.

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