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World’s most powerful heavy-ion collider to go online this week

The FRIB’s 46 cryomodules, which keep the ions cool while they are accelerated to blistering speeds. (Image credit: Facility for Rare Isotope Beams)

The world’s most powerful heavy-ion accelerator — which will create new exotic atoms and reveal how stars and supernovas forge the elements that make up our universe — is finally completed, researchers announced May 2. 

Experiments at the $730 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University (MSU) are slated to start this week. Once online, the new reactor will fire two heavy atomic nuclei at each other, splitting them apart in ways that enable scientists to study what glues them together and how rare atomic isotopes — versions of chemical elements with different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei — are structured.

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