Large Hadron Collider is being used again. Particle accelerator, which discovered the Higgs boson, had been stopped for maintenance and upgrades. Due to COVID-19 pandemic the work took longer than expected. Though, after a three-year break, the collider is ready to collide particles for a variety of studies.

It is planned that the third launch of the Large Hadron Collider will last until 2026. As of April 22, two proton beams were already circulating in a 27-kilometer collider in opposite directions. These beams contained a relatively small number of protons and circulated with an energy of 450 billion electron volts. The LHC team will increase the energy and intensity of the beams until the collisions begin with a record energy of 13.6 trillion electron volts.

”The machines and facilities underwent major upgrades during the second long shutdown of CERN’s accelerator complex. The LHC itself has undergone an extensive consolidation programme and will now operate at an even higher energy and, thanks to major improvements in the injector complex, it will deliver significantly more data to the upgraded LHC experiments,” said Mike Lamont, CERN’s Director for Accelerators and Technology.

Teams of researchers working with the collider hope that thanks to the update it will perform way more collisions. In particular, they expect a 50-time increase. A more powerful LHC will allow scientists to better study the Higgs boson and continue the hunt for the particle that proves the existence of dark matter, with a more efficient tool.

Currently, dark matter is only a hypothetical form of matter that scientists say is five times more common than normal. It is invisible and does not reflect or emit light, so all attempts to find it have so far been unsuccessful. LHC researchers have narrowed the areas where the particle can hide, so the updated accelerator brings us closer to its discovery.

CERN has preliminary approved plans to build a more powerful supercollider for $23 billion, which will have a circumference of one hundred kilometers. Its construction is unlikely to begin before 2038.