Restarting this ring, 27 kilometers in circumference, made up of thousands of superconducting magnets and located underground, straddling the Franco-Swiss border in Ain, about ten kilometers from Geneva, is a complex procedure. which spans several phases.
It’s not enough to press a button, underlines Rende Steerenberg, who leads the team in charge of the proper functioning of the LHC. The reboot comes with
a feeling of tension, a certain nervousness.
Among other pitfalls likely to disrupt the recommissioning of the LHC, which has been shut down since the beginning of 2019: the discovery of an obstruction, the contraction of certain materials during the cooling of the various sectors of the ring by nearly 300°C, or even possible failures of the thousands of magnets which make it possible to orient the beams of particles on a curved and narrow trajectory in the ring.
For a successful reboot, the system must be running
like an orchestrabecause
you have to activate the right function and perform the right action at the right timeRende Steerenberg told Reuters.
Eager to resume their work, the researchers are ready to celebrate in the control center the passage of the beams in the different sectors of the accelerator, and the champagne is chilled in this perspective.
During its first operating phase (2010-2013), the LHC made it possible to confirm the reality of the Higgs boson, an elementary particle whose existence had until then only been theoretical. The second phase of operation (2015-2018) improved knowledge of the properties of this particle.
With the return to service of the accelerator, and between now and the next shutdown scheduled for the period 2025-2027, the researchers hope to make progress in the search for hypothetical dark matter particles, which has so far remained unsuccessful.
Dark matter is an invisible form of matter that does not emit, absorb or reflect light. It is five times more abundant than ordinary matter, and without it the Universe would not be as we know it.
According to Rende Steerenberg, thanks to the work carried out on the LHC,
we will significantly increase the number of collisions and therefore also the probability of new discoveries.