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Space-based particle accelerator

  1. Jan 3, 2010 #1
    Hi everyone, I am wondering why large particle accelerators are not arranged in space around a planet or a moon via multiple satellites? The radius is much larger, hence weaker magnetic fields required. Also there is natural vacuum up there. Any ideas why this hasn't been done?

    Isn't the space vacuum good enough? Will solar winds be a trouble? Are the energy requirements too high?
     
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  3. Jan 3, 2010 #2

    DaveC426913

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    Do you think our current space-faring technology is up to this? How far beyond the ISS in terms of cost, resources, manpower and climbing-out-of-Earth's-well would you say this accelerator is?
     
  4. Jan 4, 2010 #3
    Yeah, launching a bunch of magnets is trivial. I see this as a hubble-size project, sending a package of 6 to 12 magnets (or electric plates) and a detector into orbit around a planet or a moon. Launch and costs are out of question (an order of magnitude cheaper than LHC). Any limitation with the basic physics? I am not sure about the size/weight of the detector, and the machine's energy requirements in orbit. Also, is the vacuum of space vacuum enough for this purpose?
     
  5. Jan 4, 2010 #4

    diazona

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    You're kidding, right? A space based particle accelerator around the moon would require enough magnets to completely encircle it. About a million of them.

    Admittedly space would be a great place to build a particle accelerator, but it's effectively impossible right now because of economic and engineering constraints.
     
  6. Jan 4, 2010 #5
    Why do you need a continuous line of magnets? Wouldn't a smaller number of deflection points suffice for a much larger radius?

    Can't deflection be achieved by simple electric dipoles and without the need for magnets?

    What are the economic and engineering constraints?

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
  7. Jan 4, 2010 #6

    ZapperZ

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    Please read a similar topic on this in this thread:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=250114

    For those of us who work in accelerator physics, we always shake our heads whenever we hear suggestions like this. If they think the ILC, at $20 billion proposed price tag, is expensive, space-based accelerators will go through the roof, both figuratively and literally. Also note that getting good vacuum is the LEAST of the problem with accelerators here on earth. It's not even a major cost factor!

    Zz.
     
  8. Jan 4, 2010 #7
    In a space based accelerator, I don't think the empty space between the magnets would contribute anything. So an accelerator made of six satellites would only effectively be as large as the six magnets.
     
  9. Jan 4, 2010 #8
    To achieve the high interaction rates in synchrotron colliders like the Tevatron and LHC, the beams have to be tightly focused. This also reduces the required magnet aperture. To achieve strong focusing, F (focusing) and D (defocusing) quadrupoles have to be placed at regular intervals, say every kilometer. So there would have to be tens of thousands of magnets (there are ~8000(?) magnets in CERN LHC), which is only ~26 Km around).
    Particle physics quit using weak-focusing synchrotrons when the ZGS (at Argonne National Lab) and the Bevatron (Lawrence Berkeley Lab) synchrotrons were shut down many years ago.
    Bob S
     
  10. Jan 4, 2010 #9

    DaveC426913

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    You make a good point. Unless I misunderstand how accelerators work (which is quite possible), the purpose of a larger accelerator is to add magnets, which means each can deflect the beam by a smaller amount, which means the beam's energy can be higher.
     
  11. Jan 11, 2010 #10
    there are already plans to build a large accelerator in space. To move forward is dependant on the outcome of the LHC at CERN. If they detect the HICKS Boson, the next step is space. this was the main goal of the LHC. To proceed any further, they need a larger area to collide the particles. If my memories are correct, the plan includes 6 magnets.

    LHC creates conditions about 600,000,000 year after the BigBang

    The space based collider will create conditions about the time of the BigBang.
     
  12. Jan 11, 2010 #11

    ZapperZ

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    What plan? I haven't heard of any plan!

    Now, there are plans to build DETECTORS in space. That definitely is true, and in fact, we already have several not only currently waiting for launch or being built, but also already orbiting the earth. But accelerators? So what rumor did you get this from?

    It's the HIGGS. If the LHC detects the Higgs, my guess would be that the cleanest way to pin down its properties would be via a lepton collider as proposed for the ILC.

    Zz.
     
  13. Jan 11, 2010 #12
    Hello ZapperZ,

    I do appologize for naming of the HIGGS BOSON as HICKS, I was exhausted.

    I am familiar with the detectors you write of, but I am certain I heard correctly in an interview approx six months ago, plans were being discussed for a space based accelerator. Unfortunately I do not recall at this moment who the interview was with. The focus of the interview was the LHC. I also recall the individual expressing how expensive the space based accelerator would be if the project were to proceed. The proposed size was also discussed.
     
  14. Jan 11, 2010 #13
    Thank you for the correction.
     
  15. Jan 11, 2010 #14

    DaveC426913

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    Zz, c'mon - a veritable cornucopia of redneck jokes abound. Your self-control is astonishing.
     
  16. Jan 12, 2010 #15

    ZapperZ

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    I work in accelerator physics. If there have been ANY concrete plans on building such a device in space, I would know. There are pies-in-the-sky dream of building one, but if various nations can't get their act together to even AGREE on the ILC, you'll understand my skepticism if such an accelerator is already in the "planning" stages of being built. Just thinking of bringing up all the needed RF power up there gives me the jeebees!

    I had to slap myself silly.

    Zz.
     
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