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The synchrotron was developed to overcome the energy limitations of cyclotrons imposed by special relativity. In a synchrotron, the radius of the orbit is kept constant by a magnetic field that increases with time as the momentum of the particles increases. The acceleration is provided, as in a cyclotron, by a RF oscillator that supplies an energy increment every time the particles cross an accelerating gap. The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York collides two beams of ions ranging from protons to gold at energies up to 100 GeV per nucleon. Nuclear scientists expect that such collisions will create nuclear temperatures and densities high enough to reach the quark-gluon plasma phase of nuclear matter.

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