First proton-proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider

The first particle collisions have been created in the world’s most powerful particle accelerator — the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — located at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. On Monday, November 23 the first collision events were detected by the ATLAS experiment.

After more than one year of repairs, the LHC is now back on track to create high-energy proton-proton collisions that may yield extraordinary insights into the nature of the physical universe.

The first LHC collisions are taking place at the relatively low energy of 900 GeV. Over the next few months the LHC beam energies will be raised, aiming for collisions at the world-record energy of 7 TeV in early 2010. With these high-energy collisions, the hunt for discoveries at the LHC will begin.

The high-energy physics group of Iowa State professors Chen, Cochran, Meyer, Prell and Rosenberg is part of the international ATLAS collaboration. Along with senior scientist Nils Krumnack, postdocs and graduate students they will study the data that will be collected with the ATLAS experiment over the next years. Their research focuses on measurements of top quark properties, search for the Higgs boson and new physics phenomena. However, before such exciting research can be performed, the ISU group is contributing to understand and improve the performance of the complex ATLAS experiment studying the using already known physics processes.