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The Tevatron is a large circular particle collider in the United States located near Batavia, Illinois. It is world’s second highest energy particle collider and also the second largest synchrotron collider. The Tevatron gets its name from its maximum energy output which is one teraelectronvolt. The Tevatron is a synchrotron particle collider. The Tevatron is the centerpiece of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
The Tevatron was built in 1983. Like most particle colliders it cost a lot of money to build. It cost $230 million to build in current U.S. dollars. In 1999 an upgrade, the Main Injector was completed. This cost an additional $639 million in current dollars. The additional upgrade took 5 years to complete with construction starting in 1995. The Tevatron has been regularly upgraded since its initial completion.
The Tevatron is a synchrotron particle collider. Synchrotrons are a kind of hybrid particle accelerator borrowing concepts from both linear particle accelerators and cyclotrons. Both are limited in the amount of energy they produce. This limit is overcome by synchrotrons like the Tevatron and Cyclotron by varying the electric and magnetic fields accelerating the particles. The Tevatron works by acceleration ironized hydrogen proton and antiprotons fed into the main injector from several smaller linac connected with a circular tube. The Tevatron is interesting because it is not one, but two synchrotrons. The acceleration is done with two stages. The protons are first accelerated to 150 GeV. The protons and antiprotons are then accelerated by electric and magnetic fields into the main tunnel which as a circumference of 6.28 km or 3.9 miles to the final 1 TeV.
The Tevatron has been used to investigate fundamental particles. These particles are subatomic particles that are known to be the basic building blocks of matter and energy. The Tevatron has been behind some discoveries of exotic particles such as certain varieties of baryons. However the Tevatron has only able to do so much. Scientists worldwide recognized the need for higher energy particle colliders in order to find more exotic fundamental particles. This led to the development and construction of the Large Hadron Collider in Europe. The Tevatron is now slated to cease operating in September of 2011. However parts of its will still be used for future experiments and there are already plans for some of the soon to be defunct portions of the accelerator to be shipped to other particle collider laboratories in the U.S.
If you’d like more info on the Tevatron, check out the website of the Tevatron Department of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Also, here are more information from Wikipedia.
We’ve also recorded an entire episode of Astronomy Cast all about the Large Hadron Collider. Listen here, Episode 69: The Large Hadron Collider and the Search for the Higgs Boson.