Since 1960, the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS) has been one of the world's premiere particle accelerators, well known for the three Nobel Prizes won as a result of research performed there.
The AGS name is derived from the concept of alternating gradient focusing, in which the field gradients of the accelerator's 240 magnets are successively alternated inward and outward, permitting particles to be propelled and focused in both the horizontal and vertical plane at the same time. Capable of accelerating 25 trillion protons with every pulse, and heavy ions such as gold and iron, the AGS is used by 850 users from 180 institutions from around the world annually.
The AGS receives protons from Brookhaven's 200 million electron-volt (MeV) linear accelerator (LINAC). The AGS Booster, constructed in 1991, further augmented the capabilities of the AGS, enabling it to accelerate protons and heavy ions to much higher energies than before. Even now, the applications for the AGS continue to be expanded with the construction of the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory. Among its other duties, the AGS is now used as an injector for the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. .