Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astrophysicists recreate stars in the lab

12.12.2008
Greater understanding of energetic processes in stars could accelerate development of clean energy from nuclear fusion: ESF project brings together astronomical theory, observation and experiment

Astronomers are recruiting the physics laboratory to unravel the high energy processes involved in formation of stars and other critical processes within the universe. Experiments with high energy radiation and plasmas in the laboratory involving temperatures and magnetic fields over a million times greater than normally encountered on earth are also producing spin off benefits for important applications, notably in the drive towards nuclear fusion as a source of clean carbon-neutral energy.

Although a great deal has been learnt through a combination of theoretical models and observation of the universe right across the electromagnetic spectrum including visible light with conventional optical telescopes, many questions on energetic processes taking place billions of miles away still remain unanswered.This is why astrophysicists are turning to a third ingredient, the high energy laboratory, fusing results obtained there with theoretical models and direct observation through instruments. The state of this highly promising field was discussed at a recent workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF), which also set out a roadmap for future collaborative research in Europe over the next five years.

The workshop is setting up a European framework for conducting coordinated experiments in Extreme Laboratory Astrophysics (ELA), aiming to simulate the high temperatures and magnetic fields experienced in a variety of formative processes occurring throughout the universe's history. Full blown ELA builds on earlier more tentative initiatives, such as the JETSET network, which is a four-year Marie Curie Research Training Network (RTN) funded by the European Commission, designed to build a vibrant interdisciplinary European Research and Training community centred on rigorous and novel approaches to plasma jet studies, with a focus on flows produced during star formation. Plasma jets comprise high energy atomic nuclei stripped of their electrons, expelled from stars during their formation and early in their lives.

ELA experiments however, as discussed at the ESF workshop, go much further than the study of plasma jets, and therefore expand on the foundations created by JETSET. "The JETSET network was truly innovative in that it combined not only theoretical and observational astrophysics, but also for the first time experiments," said Andrea Ciardi, convenor of the ESF workshop and plasma physicist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. "However JETSET was limited in terms of astrophysical phenomena studied (jets from young stars) and in terms of groups involved. The workshop aims at the creation of an XLA framework combining numerical modelling, experiments and theory, to complement observations in the study of a broader range of astrophysical phenomena."

The workshop fulfilled its objectives of stimulating the required interdisciplinary research effort, and providing a broad outlook of future objectives. Furthermore it generated great excitement about prospects for the field, according to Ciardi. "The workshop covered a large spectrum of research both in astrophysics and in laboratory plasma physics: from cosmic rays acceleration, to the properties of fast winds in stars, and from high-power lasers aimed at achieving fusion to experiments producing magnetic bubbles expanding at hundreds of kilometres per second," said Ciardi. "Indeed the excitement comes from being able to re-create in the laboratory astrophysical phenomena taking place in some of the most extreme and exotic objects in the universe."

The ELA experiments should also have practical benefits. "ELA research has an inherent duality: experiments developed initially for laboratory astrophysics, including new diagnostics, theoretical and numerical models, can be useful for example to fusion research, which is pursuing a clean source of energy, which in some cases uses similar theoretical and experimental techniques," said Ciardi.

ELA research could also help improve weather forecasts by leading to better understanding of cosmic rays that strike the earth's atmosphere and have a significant effect on cloud formation and thunderstorm activity.

The ESF workshop, Extreme Laboratory Astrophysics: Advances and Opportunities in High-Energy Density Experiments, was held in Paris (France), in September 2008.

Thomas Lau | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esf.org/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Taking a spin on plasma space tornadoes with NASA observations
20.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>