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A Place On Earth Hotter Than The Center Of The Sun

A Place On Earth Hotter Than The Center Of The Sun

2018-11-06 20:53:11

Scientists have recreated the conditions within stars and planets on Earth. They reached a whopping 36 million degrees which is 10 million degrees hotter than the center of the Sun. Creating these conditions could help us understand more about the conditions found in astrophysical objects but also have applications in fusion energy and medicine.

The experiments were carried out at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. SLAC is home to the world's longest linear particle accelerator which feeds into a large x-ray laser. The x-ray laser then leads into seven experimental hutches, where the conditions found at the center of the Sun were created in the last hutch known as MEC which stands for Matter under Extreme Conditions. At MEC, high power lasers are used to zap pieces of metal until they vaporize into a plasma. Plasma is the fourth state of matter that the Sun is made of. You can think of a plasma as a hot gas. So hot in fact that atoms cannot exist, instead, the electrons are stripped away from their atoms. As a result, a 'soup' of ions and electrons exist. With these experiments, scientists can not only learn more about the interiors of stars but also help make particle accelerators using plasma which could help with cancer treatment.

The central vacuum chamber at MEC at SLAC which is home to some of the hottest substances on Earth. With high power lasers, scientists at MEC can help recreate the conditions found in the interiors of suns and planets.SLAC

Using the x-ray laser at SLAC, the team of scientists could take snapshots of how the laser-made plasma evolved over quadrillionths of a second. The snapshots could reveal small instabilities within the plasma. The work was reported in Physical Review X last month, and features the experiments carried out at SLAC with a collaboration with scientists from Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf research center in Germany as well as other institutions.

When the metal is shot with the laser, not only is plasma produced, but also a stream of protons. These protons can be used for proton therapy, a form of cancer treatment that is gentler than commonly used radiation therapy. The main difference between proton and radiation therapy is that charged particles are used rather than x-rays. Cancer treatment in this form have smaller footprints than the machines used for radiation therapy. Having these in hospitals will be highly advantageous.

Other applications of analyzing the laser-made plasmas are learning more about high-energy cosmic rays which are commonplace in our cosmos. They include highly energetic particles which can come out as jets from the hearts of active galaxies. Seeing how the plasma behaves could give scientists an idea of how plasma instabilities could produce cosmic rays.

Original Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/meriameberboucha/2018/10/29/a-place-on-earth-hotter-than-the-centre-of-the-sun/#65590b586428

Original Date: Oct 29 2018

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