Thursday, January 26, 2012

X-Ray Laser Turns Up the Heat to 3.6 Million Degrees

An x-ray laser fired at a sample of aluminum has generated temperatures of 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit — hotter than the sun’s corona.
Scientists achieved the sizzling temperatures using a powerful x-ray laser at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. By focusing rapid-fire pulses from the beam on a piece of aluminum foil thinner than spider’s silk, they were able to create a material known as hot dense matter.
The advancement represents the first time researchers have been able to produce such plasmas in a controlled way. The findings appear Jan. 25 in Nature.
Hot dense matter is some of the most extreme material in the universe, only existing in the hearts of stars and giant gas planets. Having a sample of it in the lab should provide insights into the material, helping scientists to create better models of its behavior.
Image: University of Oxford/Sam Vinko
Adam is a Wired Science reporter and freelance journalist. He lives in Oakland, Ca near a lake and enjoys space, physics, and other sciency things.
Follow @adamspacemann on Twitter.

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