Astronomy Now Online
Home Magazine Sky Chart Resources Store


Top Stories


Size doesn't matter for black holes

...periodic X-ray signals are widely observed in low mass black holes, but now, for the first time, XMM-Newton has picked up similar signals from a supermassive black hole...

read more

Water present on Mars billion years longer

...new research suggests that water may have played a role in shaping parts of the Martian landscape for a billion years longer than previous studies have proposed...

read more

Three-dimensional look at Venus’ raging winds

...ESA's Venus Express spacecraft has put together the first 3D picture of the fierce winds that roar across the planet’s southern hemisphere...

read more



Spaceflight Now +



Subscribe to Spaceflight Now Plus for access to our extensive video collections!
How do I sign up?
Video archive

STS-120 day 2 highlights

Flight Day 2 of Discovery's mission focused on heat shield inspections. This movie shows the day's highlights.

 Play

STS-120 day 1 highlights

The highlights from shuttle Discovery's launch day are packaged into this movie.

 Play

STS-118: Highlights

The STS-118 crew, including Barbara Morgan, narrates its mission highlights film and answers questions in this post-flight presentation.

 Full presentation
 Mission film

STS-120: Rollout to pad

Space shuttle Discovery rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and travels to launch pad 39A for its STS-120 mission.

 Play

Dawn leaves Earth

NASA's Dawn space probe launches aboard a Delta 2-Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral to explore two worlds in the asteroid belt.

 Full coverage

Dawn: Launch preview

These briefings preview the launch and science objectives of NASA's Dawn asteroid orbiter.

 Launch | Science

Become a subscriber
More video



Large Hadron Collider powered down in first week
BY DR EMILY BALDWIN
ASTRONOMY NOW

Posted: September 22, 2008

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been forced out of action for at least two months while engineers probe a fault in one section of the tunnel.

A helium leak in one sector of the LHC's underground tunnel has forced a delay of two months until the first particle collision experiments can be made. Image: CERN.

The LHC is the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator, designed to collide opposing beams of protons at extremely high energy to recreate conditions in the Universe shortly after the big bang. The LHC is buried 100 metres underneath the French-Swiss border near Geneva. The first beams were fired successfully around the 27 kilometre circuit over a week ago (read our report here) but the giant experiment has now been powered down following some mechanical setbacks.

First a 30-tonne transformer designed to cool part of the collider broke, although the cryogenics system was put into standby mode to maintain the cool temperatures while the problem was fixed. Then, on Friday, a faulty electrical connection between two magnets reportedly melted, leading to the loss of vacuum, and a devastating one-tonne leak of liquid helium into the tunnel.

Temperatures soared by a hundred degrees causing meltdown of magnets designed to operate at -271 Celsius, just above absolute zero. The LHC’s magnets control the acceleration of the particle beams around the collider.

Since workers are not permitted to enter the underground experiment while it is in operation, there was no danger to human lives by the helium leak. But in order to make the necessary repairs the machine will have to be warmed up for engineers to enter the complex, and then cooled back down again to begin the experiments. This translates into at least two months down time for the LHC, meaning that the first attempts at colliding particles will likely be put back to the end of the year at the earliest.

Once the particle beams start colliding, physicists hope to answer some of the Universe’s biggest questions, such as the origin of mass, the probability of extra dimensions and the nature of dark matter. Read more about the science behind the LHC in our report Powering up the world's biggest physics experiment.

Hubble Reborn
Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts.
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE

The Planets
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets.
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE

3D Universe
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D!
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE


HOME | NEWS ARCHIVE | MAGAZINE | SOLAR SYSTEM | SKY CHART | RESOURCES | STORES | SPACEFLIGHT NOW

© 2014 Pole Star Publications Ltd.