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Next generation particle smasher is in the works

The possible new particle accelerator will be more powerful and larger than even the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) CERN

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research based just outside Geneva, is to explore options for a new circular particle accelerator – the high-energy machine responsible for smashing together particles at extremely high speeds.

The experiments run using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) since 2010 have been investigating dark matter, antimatter and the creation of the universe.

In 2012 the Higgs Boson was observed by CERN – a particle confirming an important theory from the 1960s about why matter has mass.

The current LHC will still be used by physicists for the next two decades, but a long-term project to create the next generation particle accelerator has begun.

Sergio Bertolucci, Director for Research and Computing at CERN, said: “The forthcoming results from the LHC will be crucial in showing us which research paths to follow in the future and what will be the most suitable type of accelerator to answer the new questions that will soon be asked”.

The Future Circular Collider (FCC) could have a circumference of 80 to 100 kilometres (the LHC has a circumference of 27km), but first a five-year exploratory study will be carried out to look into the feasibility and cost of various different machines.

It will focus on a hadron collider, similar to the oval-shaped LHC, but much more powerful.

It is separate to feasibility studies currently being conducted into two different linear colliders; one which could potentially be built at CERN and another earmarked for a different international location.

A conceptual design report on the CERN circular collider project is expected in 2018/2019.

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