European physics lab Cern has announced that its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been turned off until 2015 so that vital maintenance and repair can be carried out.
The shutdown had been planned as part of the LHC's operations having been running for three years. When it comes back online again in 2015, it will run at higher speeds.
In the past three years the experiments at Cern have generated huge amounts of data, about 100 petabytes according to the organisation, and have led to potentially ground-breaking discoveries, including a particle that appears to be the long-sought Higgs Boson.
The data generated by experiments hunting for the Higgs are still being analysed, Cern added.
The organisation, which receives funding from governments across Europe, said it was pleased with its first years of operations.
"We have every reason to be very satisfied with the LHC's first three years. The machine, the experiments, the computing facilities and all infrastructures behaved brilliantly, and we have a major scientific discovery in our pocket," said Cern director-general Rolf Heuer.
The work on the LHC and its component parts are a vital next stage in the machine's evolution as Cern moves to boost its running speed.
"We'll essentially be rebuilding the interconnections between LHC magnets, so when we resume running in 2015, we will be able to operate the machine at its design energy of 7TeV per beam," said Cern director for accelerators and technology, Steve Myers.
Since the start of the year the LHC has been trying to recreate the conditions immediately after the Big Bang by protons into lead ions, while the final four days saw a return to proton-proton collisions, to use as a reference point for the lead ion-proton collisions.
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