Back in operation for particle physics for the first time since 1996, Fermilab’s superconducting Tevatron proton antiproton collider is set to write a major new chapter of science history. What is officially called Run II of the collider will continue, with interruptions for maintenance and upgrades, until 2007, by which time CERN’s LHC collider will have made its debut.
For Run II the Tevatron’s beams have been boosted from 900 to 980 GeV (collision energy 1960 GeV), the highest-energy particle accelerator now operating in the world. As well as providing extra energy, the Run II Tevatron is fed by Fermilab’s 150 GeV Main Injector synchrotron, which was commissioned in 1999 and replaced Fermilab’s original Main Ring.
The Tevatron and the Main Ring originally shared the same tunnel, which had a four mile circumference. However, the Main Ring, which has now been removed, became a bottleneck in Fermilab’s particle supply. With the new Main Injector, proton-antiproton collision rates (luminosity) should be boosted twentyfold.
Monitoring these collisions are the Tevatron’s two major collider detectors, CDF and D0. Each have completed five-year upgrades costing USD 100 million to take advantage of the Tevatron’s enhanced capabilities.
Late last year, experiments at CERN’s Large Electron-Positron (LEP) collider detected hints of the long-awaited Higgs particle, the source of mass in the unified theory of weak and electromagnetic interactions. However, LEP was shut down before scientists could either confirm or rule out a Higgs sighting (see Season of Higgs and melodrama). For the next few years, the Tevatron has no competitor in the Higgs race.
Run II also has the potential for revealing much more, including evidence for supersymmetry – a possible doubling of the known number of fundamental particles, new insights into the CP-violation mechanism responsible for asymmetry between matter and antimatter, and a better understanding of the sixth “top” quark, discovered at Fermilab in 1995 during Tevatron Collider Run I.
The Tevatron saw its first proton-antiproton collisions in 1985, and for its first phase of operations (pre-Run I, until 1989) ran with a single detector, CDF. For Run I (1992-1996), CDF was joined by the D0 detector.