SCIENTISTS have created their own supernova explosions – in the comfort of their laboratory.
Supernovas are stars hit by a sudden reignition of nuclear fusion or those which suffer gravitational collapse at their cores. The resulting force triggers a shockwave that is one of the most energetic events in the universe.
Researchers have been studying the phenomenon at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, at Chilton, near Didcot.
Using beams billions of times more powerful than laser pointers, they have created small-scale supernova explosions in the laboratory to study them.
Three laser beams were focused onto a carbon rod about as thick as a strand of hair, in a low-density gas-filled chamber.
The resultant heat – several million degrees C, caused the rod to explode and the blast to expand – replicating the gas surrounding a supernova.
Prof Gianluca Gregori, of Oxford University’s department of physics, said: “It may sound surprising that a table-top laboratory experiment that fits inside an average room can be used to study astrophysical objects that are light years across.”
The research investigates the relationship between turbulence and magnetic fields created at the birth of the universe.
Our top stories:
7:18pm Sunday 23rd November 2014
THERE are delays of up to half an hour on the M40 after an earlier vehicle fire.
6:21pm Sunday 23rd November 2014
A woman has been sexually assaulted in a pub car park in Kidlington.
2:26pm Sunday 23rd November 2014
A HORSE was killed after it collided with a car near Steeple Aston yesterday.
2:17pm Sunday 23rd November 2014
OXFORDSHIRE is set for a cold snap tonight and tomorrow with temperatures as low as -2C expected in some parts of the county.
11:51am Sunday 23rd November 2014
A WOMAN from Witney has been missing since Friday.
6:24pm Saturday 22nd November 2014
TWO men were assaulted in Oxford city centre last weekend.