Run 2 off to a roaring start

Kevin Burkett

Kevin Burkett

After a two-year shutdown, the LHC roared back to life earlier this summer, delivering proton-proton collisions at an energy of 13 TeV, significantly higher than the 8-TeV collisions of Run 1. The second run of the LHC started in early June with much anticipation of what the data might have in store for us. Since those first collisions, the LHC collaboration has been slowly ramping up the intensity of the collisions, tuning the machine as they go. At the same time, the experiments have been using the lower-intensity collisions to debug and calibrate their detectors.

No restart of an experiment is without a few hiccups, but after hard work by many CMS collaborators, the detector is operating well. While we haven’t yet recorded enough data to perform stringent tests of theories like supersymmetry, the first results from Run 2 are coming out. Last week in Vienna, the first Run 2 results were presented at the European Physical Society Conference on High Energy Physics (EPS-HEP2015). From the “rediscovery of the Standard Model” — measuring known particles to verify the performance of the detector and our reconstruction of the data — to the first searches for heavy particles that decay into a pair of jets, Fermilab scientists and our university collaborators at the LHC Physics Center have been in the middle of the action.

The plan for the rest of 2015 has the LHC continuing to increase the rate of collisions, running late into the year. With this data, we should already be able to extend the reach of many of our searches from Run 1. But this is just a taste of what we can expect in all of Run 2, which is currently scheduled to continue through 2018 and could potentially deliver more than 20 times what we will see this year.

In addition to analyzing the CMS data, Fermilab scientists, technicians and engineers are busy with upgrades to the detector that will keep it running smoothly through Run 2 and beyond. Run 2 promises to be a busy and exciting period, and it is only just beginning.

Kevin Burkett is the head of the CMS Center.