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Anna Phan | USLHC | USA

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LUMI LEVELING: What, Why and How?

I’m interrupting my descriptions of LHCb to discuss something more relevant to the current status of the LHC. Namely this LHC status from just after midnight the other day:

Ken has already discussed the luminosity record in this post, and today I’ll be discussing luminosity leveling (LUMI LEVELING). You may be wondering what this has got to do with LHCb? Well, interaction point 8 (IP8) is where LHCb is located as can be seen in this image:

Aidan has timely discussed what luminosity is in this post where he said that larger instantaneous luminosity means having more events, we want to do everything we can to increase instantaneous luminosity. However, if you’ve been looking at the LHC luminosity plots for 2011, like the one for peak instantaneous luminosity below, you might have noticed that the instantaneous luminosities of ALICE and LHCb are lower than those of ATLAS and CMS.

The reason for the difference between the experiments is that the design instantaneous luminosities for LHCb and ALICE are much lower than for ATLAS and CMS. The target instantaneous luminosity for LHCb is \(2 \times 10^{32} cm^{-2} s^{-1} \) to \(3 \times 10^{32} cm^{-2} s^{-1}\) and for ALICE is \(5 \times 10^{29} cm^{-2} s^{-1} \) to \(5 \times 10^{30} cm^{-2} s^{-1}\) while ATLAS and CMS are designed for an instantaneous luminosity of \(10^{34} cm^{-2} s^{-1}\).

This means that while the LHC operators are trying to maximise instantaneous luminosity at ATLAS and CMS, they are also trying to provide LHCb and ALICE with their appropriate luminosities.

As Aidan mentioned in his post, there are a couple of different ways to modify instantaneous luminosity: you can change the number of proton bunches in the beam or you can change the area of the proton bunches that collide.

Last year the LHC operators optimised the collision conditions and this year have been increasing instantaneous luminosity by increasing the number of proton bunches.

The varying instantaneous luminosity requirements of the experiments have so far been handled by having a different number of proton bunches colliding at each of the interaction points. For example, last week there were 228 proton bunches in the beam, 214 of which were colliding in ATLAS and CMS, 12 of which were colliding in ALICE and 180 of which were colliding in LHCb.

However as more and more proton bunches are injected into the beam, it is not possible to continue to limit the instantaneous luminosity at ALICE and LHCb by limiting the number of colliding bunches. Instead, the LHC operators need to modify the collision conditions. This is what luminosity leveling refers to.

Luminosity leveling is performed by moving the proton beams relative to each other to modify the area available for interactions as the bunches pass through each other. This concept is much easier to explain diagrammatically: if the centres of the beams are aligned like on the left, there are more interactions than if they are offset from each other like on the right.

This luminosity leveling process can be seen in action in the graph below from the nice long LHC fill from last night. You can see the ATLAS and CMS luminosities slowly decreasing due to collisions, while the LHCb luminosity stays roughly constant at \(1.3 \times 10^{32} cm^{-2} s^{-1} \), where the vertical red lines are when the beam adjustments were made.


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