May 6, 2005  


B Factory Resumes Operations

By Matthew Early Wright

After a nearly five month shutdown, the B Factory experiment is back on-line and gathering data in earnest. The BABAR detector produced its first collisions since the restart on April 16.

Cross-sectional view of the BABAR detector, showing one of the first Run 5 examples of an e+e- collision producing multiple long-lived charged and neutral hadrons in the inner parts of the detector. Hits from traversing charged particles are visible in the silicon vertex tracker and drift chamber, showing curved trajectories in the solenoidal magnetic field.
(Image courtesy of David MacFarlane)

“After more than two weeks of collisions, PEP-II has over 65 percent of its former peak luminosity,” said John Seeman (AD), head of the Accelerator Department. “This has been the best beam turn-on so far, and we are very pleased. The support personnel and maintenance staff have done an excellent job.”

Director Jonathan Dorfan suspended operations of all accelerators at the Laboratory last October, when an electrical accident left a contract electrician seriously injured. The Lab has since been working to address safety concerns raised by the DOE’s review board.

Dorfan assembled validation teams to ensure the safe restart of operations for the Lab’s major accelerator facilities. SPEAR3 completed its validation in January and was operational soon thereafter. The B Factory’s validation team approved the restart on Thursday, March 24. Since then, the staff has been working hard to restore operations after the lengthy shutdown.

“I don’t remember the last time the accelerator complex was off for this long,” said David MacFarlane, spokesman for BABAR. “Everyone involved with the B Factory is excited to resume data collection.” This excitement is tempered by a renewed commitment to safety at the Lab.

According to Seeman, the B Factory staff has updated key protocols and made several hardware upgrades to enhance safety. “We are thrilled to be up and running safely, starting to provide data to the BABAR detector,” he added.

The B Factory is addressing some of the most perplexing questions in physics. Stated broadly, the experiment hopes to answer why matter won out over antimatter in the first few milliseconds following the Big Bang.

But the B Factory is not the only experiment pursuing this goal. The Belle detector, at KEK in Japan, has been collecting data while the BABAR detector sat idle.

“We’ve been watching the competition collect data steadily over the last five months,” MacFarlane said. “Now that the B Factory is running again, people are feeling much more upbeat.”

MacFarlane said recent upgrades will eventually allow the B Factory to collect data 40 percent faster than before. At this rate, the team should be able to double the total data set by next summer.  


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Friday May 06, 2005 by Topher White