Large Hadron Collider Back in Business After 'Intense Maintenance'

A general view of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment is seen during a media visit to the Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in the French village of Saint-Genis-Pouilly, near Geneva in Switzerland, July 23, 2014. Pierre Albouy/Reuters

Following two years of "intense maintenance and consolidation," the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)--one of the world's most prominent and powerful particle colliders--has finally restarted, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) confirmed in a statement released Sunday.

Ars Technica reports that the electronics in close proximity to the area where the particles collide need to be replaced about every five years.

Protons were circling inside the LHC's state-of-the-art tunnel at the CERN Control Centre in Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday morning, and then again on Sunday afternoon. But particle collisions won't begin for at least another month.

The mechanism involves a 27-kilometer ring of magnets that boasts accelerating structures to increase the energy of particles as they run through the tunnel. Once inside the accelerator, two beams of high-energy particles travel at near-light speed right before they collide with each other.

Frédérick Bordry, Cern's director for accelerators and technology, said in a statement: "After two years of effort, the LHC is in great shape. But the most important step is still to come when we increase the energy of the beams to new record levels."

When the LHC's "second season" begins, the collisions are expected to happen at an "unprecedented energy," almost twice as much as that of its first go-around. At first, particles will be inserted at a low energy, and then engineers will slowly amplify the beams of the energy to 13 trillion electronvolts, compared to 6.5 trillion electronvolts during the LHC's first iteration. Back in 2012, the LHC made a breakthrough when it discovered a new particle, the so-called God particle.

During this second run, physicists will be challenging what's known as the Standard Model of particle physics, "searching for new physics beyond this well-established theory describing particles and their iterations." Specifically, they'll be exploring heady concepts including anti-matter, dark matter and quark-gluon plasma with the LHC 2.0.