Quick Facts

Large Hadron Collider operation timeline

Large Hadron Collider Run I March 2010 - February 2013
Long shutdown I February 2013 - March 2015
LHC Run II first beams April 2015
LHC first 13 TeV collisions June 2015
Large Hadron Collider Run II  June 2015 - 2018


Large Hadron Collider parameters:

Circumference 26,659 meters (16.57 miles)
Depth underground Between 50 and 150 meters
Location Swiss-French boarder; near Geneva
Dipole operating temperature 1.9 K
LHC magnets (total number) 9593
Main dipoles (steering magnets) 1232
Main quadrapoles (focusing magnets) 392
RF cavities (accelerating components) 8 per beam
Machine cost (original construction) 4.6 billion CHF (more than $4 billion)


Optimal beam parameters (protons and ions)

Energy per proton 6.5 TeV
Energy per ion 2.51 TeV (per nucleon)
Collision energy (proton-proton collisions) 13 TeV
Proton bunches per beam 2808 bunches
Protons per bunch 120 billion
Proton laps around LHC (per second) 11245 laps/sec
Proton bunch crossings inside detectors 40 million crossings/second
Number of collisions per proton bunch crossing ~20 collisions
Approximate number of collisions per second 600 millions collsions/sec
LHC collisions points 4
LHC operation time (before refill needed) 8-10 hours
Time required to accelerate beams before collisions Between 20 and 45 minutes


LHC terminology

Hadron A clump of quarks tightly bound together. All atomic nuclei are hadrons.
Proton bunch A dense packet of protons. Each bunch is about 30 cm in length and spaced about 7.5 meters (25 nano seconds) apart inside the LHC.
Beam A string of bunches circulating around the LHC (1 beam travels clockwise; the other travels counter clockwise.)
Luminosity A measurement of how frequently particles in the LHC collide. The higher the luminosity, the greater the average collisions/sec rate.
TeV Teraelectron Volts (measurement of energy.) 1 TeV = 1,000,000,000,000 electron Volts (eV). A particle of visible light has 3 to 5 eV of energy. A flying mosquito has about 1 TeV of kinnetic energy.
Ion An atom (like a lead atom) stripped of one or more of its electrons
HL-LHC High Luminosity Large Hadron Collider; a planned upgrade to the LHC that will increase its luminosity by more than a factor of 5.

LHC in perspective

  • The total energy stored in a 6.5 TeV proton beam is equivalent to the kinetic energy of the USS Harry S. Truman Aircraft carrier traveling at 5.6 knots. (see calculations.)
  • The energy of one proton inside the LHC is slightly more than the kinetic energy of a mosquito flying.
  • The energy density of a 13 TeV proton-proton collision is equivalent to an apple hitting the moon and creating a crater roughly 6 miles across
  • Two LHC beams contain enough energy to melt nearly one tonne of copper.
  • LHC collision can generate temperatures 100,000 times hotter than the center of the sun.
  • The two beams circulating inside the LHC contain a total of 6 x 1014 protons. One 5 kg bottle of hydrogen gas could supply the LHC with protons for 109 years (assuming the LHC runs non-stop.)

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