General Lab Information

Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider

Photo of LINAC

The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) is a world-class particle accelerator at Brookhaven National Laboratory where physicists are exploring the most fundamental forces and properties of matter and the early universe. RHIC accelerates beams of particles (e.g., the nuclei of heavy atoms such as gold) to nearly the speed of light, and smashes them together to recreate a state of matter thought to have existed immediately after the Big Bang some 13.8 billion years ago. STAR and PHENIX, two large detectors located around the 2.4-mile-circumference accelerator, take "snapshots" of these collisions to reveal a glimpse of the basic constituents of visible matter, quarks and gluons. Understanding matter at
such a fundamental level will teach us about the forces that hold the universe and everything in it together. In addition, by accelerating and colliding polarized protons, RHIC can explore how the proton gets its spin and intrinsic magnetism from its quark and gluon constituents.

The Physics of RHIC
AGS complex