The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's most powerful particle accelerator, located in the particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, has been turned off for upgrades.
According to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), LHC upgrades can take up to two years to complete.
The machine was turned off on 3 December after scientists completed a second run of experiments. During its second run from 2015 to 2018, it achieved approximately 16 million billion proton-proton collisions at the cost of 13 trillion electron volts (TeV) of energy.
Upgrading the LHC will increase the energy up to 14 TeV.
The collisions achieved at LHC produced more than 300 million gigabytes of data. This enormous amount of data is equivalent to 1,000 years of 24/7 video streaming. It is archived in CERN's data centre tape libraries.
Two years ago, the LHC was temporarily shut down after a weasel chewed through the wiring of the highly expensive machine.
But according to CERN, the accelerator has already delivered results beyond expectations.
"The second run of the LHC has been impressive, as we could deliver well beyond our objectives and expectations, producing five times more data than during the first run, at the unprecedented energy of 13 TeV," said Frédérick Bordry, CERN's director for accelerators and technology.
The whole accelerator complex, including equipment, will now be upgraded for the next run, which is expected to commence in 2021. Engineers will replace the Linac2 accelerator with the Linac4 linear accelerator to enable the LHC to produce more intense beams. Linac4 will accelerate H- ions, which when stripped to protons enable the generation of brighter beams.
The second accelerator, the Proton Synchrotron Booster, will be overhauled with new injection and acceleration systems.
The latest upgrades will also see shielding of the bypass diodes in LHC. Moreover, 20 main superconducting magnets will be replaced with new pieces.
Civil engineering works for the High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) that began in June 2018 will continue. It will include connecting new galleries to the LHC tunnel, and testing of superconducting technologies and new powerful magnet for the first time.
Operations for the HL-LHC project are expected to commence sometime after 2025.
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