Large Hadron Collider shuts down for two years of upgrades, maintenance

CERN is shutting down the Large Hadron Collider (LHD) for two years in order to make "major improvements" to the system. All experiments and the accelerator complex will end during these 24 months, giving experts time to upgrade the system before the next round of work. CERN has scheduled its next LHC run for 2021, when it will end the current Long Shutdown 2.

As of now, the Large Hadron Collider is in its Long Shutdown 2 (LS2) period. This isn't the first time CERN has shut down the system for upgrades and maintenance, and it follows the most recent spat of research. During its second run, which lasted from 2015 to 2018, the system "performed beyond expectations," CERN said.

During that time, the LHC generated an enormous body of data and around 16 "million billion" proton-proton collisions. More than 300 million gigabytes of data were generated from this, all of it having been permanently archived on data center tapes by CERN. When given a frame of references, CERN says the data is equivalent to 1,000 years of video being streamed non-stop.

Notably, the LHC's experiments resulted in increased understanding of the Higgs boson particle, which CERN discovered in 2012. The team is already looking to the future, and plans to start operations on the anticipated High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) project in 2025. The complex will be able to produce more data by increasing luminosity, according to CERN.

Talking about the plan is CERN's Director for Research and Computing Eckhard Elsen, who said:

The rich harvest of the second run enables the researchers to look for very rare processes. They will be busy throughout the shutdown examining the huge data sample for possible signatures of new physics that haven't had the chance to emerge from the dominant contribution of the Standard Model processes. This will guide us into the HL-LHC when the data sample will increase by yet another order of magnitude.