New superconducting particle accelerator reaches temperatures colder than space here on Earth

A particle accelerator fusing electrons here on Earth has reached temperatures colder than those in space.

The habits x-ray free-electron laser at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory — part of an upgrade project to the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), called LCLS II — scientists cooled liquid helium to minus 456 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 271 degrees Celsius), or 2 Kelvin† That’s just 2 kelvins above absolute zero, the coldest possible temperature at which all particle movement stops. That icy environment is crucial for the accelerator, because at such low temperatures the machine becomes superconducting, meaning it can propel electrons through it with virtually zero energy loss.

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