Though the idea of building a particle collider on the moon seems out of this world, physicists are considering the possibilities.
If you could peer into a particle physicist’s daydream, you might spy a vision of a giant lunar particle accelerator. Now, researchers have calculated what such an enormous, hypothetical machine could achieve.
A particle collider encircling the moon could reach an energy of 14 quadrillion electron volts, physicists report June 6 at arXiv.org. That’s about 1,000 times the energy of the world’s biggest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, at CERN near Geneva.
It’s not an idea anyone expects will become reality anytime soon, says particle physicist James Beacham of Duke University. Instead, he and physicist Frank Zimmermann of CERN considered the possibility “primarily for fun.” But physicists of future generations could potentially build a collider on the moon, Beacham says.
Such a fantastical machine would probably be buried under the moon’s surface to avoid wild temperature swings, the researchers say, and could be powered by a ring of solar panels around the moon.