The LHC in numbers

What makes the LHC the biggest particle accelerator in the world? Here are some of the numbers that characterise the LHC, and their equivalents in terms that are easier for us to imagine.

Feature Number Equivalent
Circumference ~ 27 km  
Distance covered by beam in 10 hours ~ 10 billion km a round trip to Neptune
Number of times a single proton travels around the ring each second 11 245  
Speed of protons first entering the LHC 299 732 500 m/s 99.9998 % of the speed of light
Speed of protons when they collide 299 789 760 m/s 99.9999991 % of the speed of light
Collision temperature ~ 1016 °C over one billion times hotter than the centre of the Sun
Operating temperature of the superconducting magnets 1,9 K (-271,3°C) colder than outer
space (which is 2.7 K, or 270.5˚C)
Amount of helium needed to cool down the facility ~ 120 t  
Number of leak-tight pipe junctions necessary to keep the helium cold ~ 40 000  
Volume of the insulating vacuum around the superconducting magnets ~ 9 000 m3 the volume of the nave of a cathedral
Pressure inside the beam vacuum pipe ~ 10-13 atm one tenth of the pressure at the surface of the moon
Electrical power consumption ~ 120 MW twice the power generated by the Rolls Royce 900 engine of an Airbus A380 when the plane is at cruising speed

by Alizée Dauvergne