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:
12:00am Thursday 18th September 2014
A MAN who was “heavily intoxicated” died after falling into a cellar window, an inquest heard yesterday.
5:43pm Wednesday 17th September 2014
A mum-of-two from Oxfordshire has become the first person in the world to be injected with an Ebola gene as part of a city-led battle against the deadly virus.
4:37pm Wednesday 17th September 2014
A broken-down car is causing delays on the M40 southbound near Bicester.
2:25pm Wednesday 17th September 2014
An escaped prisoner was arrested in Oxford this morning along with a man and a woman.
11:50am Tuesday 3rd June 2014
OXFORD Mail readers can now sign up to get major breaking news alerts sent direct to their mobile phones with a new service using Whatsapp.
9:00am Tuesday 9th September 2014
RESIDENTS in Woodstock have vowed to “fight until the bitter end” against plans to build up to 1,500 homes east of the town.