Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cosmic Jets of Young Stars Formed by Magnetic Fields

17.10.2014

Astrophysical jets are counted among our Universe’s most spectacular phenomena: From the centers of black holes, quasars, or protostars, these rays of matter sometimes protrude several light years into space.

Now, for the first time ever, an international team of researchers has successfully tested a new model that explains how magnetic fields form these emissions in young stars. Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) were part of this research. Their findings have been published in the journal Science. The insights gleaned from this research may even apply to cancer therapy.


An artist's rendering showing the birth of a star: A dust and gas cloud is forming a spiraling disk around a massive baby star while jets of material shoot from its core.

ESO/L. Calada

Whenever an object in space forms a rotating disc of matter, chances are that it gives rise to a “jet” – a thin, straight emission of matter which emanates from the disc’s center and that looks like a spintop. These structures can be observed especially during the formation of new stars. But understanding how such thin beams are able to form within the disc is something that continues to elude scientists.

Now, HZDR researchers, along with their European, American, and Asian colleagues, have investigated this process in the lab. At LULI – the Laboratoire pour l'Utilisation des Lasers Intenses – in France, scientists hit a plastic sample with laser light which set the electrons at the target’s core in motion, transforming the solid plastic object into conductive plasma.

“Think of it as a sort of rapidly expanding hot cloud of electrons and ions. On a small scale, the plasma represents a young star’s accumulation of matter,” explains Professor Thomas Cowan, the study’s co-author and Director of the HZDR Institute of Radiation Physics.

Miniature versions of young stars for the lab

What made the experiment special was the fact that the plasma was exposed to a very powerful pulsed magnetic field. The idea behind it: under a magnetic field’s influence, the normally widely scattered plasma begins to focus, forming a hollow center. This ultimately produces a shockwave, from which a very thin beam starts to project – a jet.

The experiment was set up in such a way as to allow for extrapolation to conditions as they would be encountered in the Universe: within as little as 20 nanoseconds – over 100,000 times faster than a fly flapping its wings – the lab plasma forms structures similar to a young star’s jet in approximately six years. This allowed the researchers to test their model with astronomical observations, which were made possible through space telescopes, in the last two decades. The data were in good agreement.

In a jet, for instance, a crossing over of particle streams can occur, which in turn results in the formation of very hot spots. “X-ray measurements of actual jets show these features at the exact same points as our true-to-scale plasma model in the lab,” says Cowan. With its help, the researchers were able to offer a model that, for the first time ever, is capable of explaining the formation of jets solely by way of magnetic fields. Previous approaches had considered the rotation of matter about the young star another influencing factor.

The realization that plasma can be focused in this way may prove a real practical boon in the field of medical engineering. According to Cowan, it’s conceivable that with the help of pulsed magnetic fields, a particularly thin proton beam could be produced for use in radiation therapy. It’s what Florian Kroll, Ph.D. student at the HZDR and one of the study’s co-authors, is investigating.

Special pulse generator designed at the Dresden High Magnetic Field Lab

In order to produce strong pulsed magnetic fields for the experiment, the researchers drew on the expertise at the HZDR’s Dresden High Magnetic Field Lab: “We developed a special pulse generator which allowed our French colleagues to set up powerful magnetic fields within a small, enclosed lab space,” says Dr. Thomas Herrmannsdörfer, head of division at the High Magnetic Field Lab. The generator – just about the size of a wardrobe – is capable of generating currents of up to 300 kiloampere.

According to Herrmannsdörfer, building such a compact facility was a real technical challenge: “Our electrical engineers came up with some very innovative solutions. This is also helping us now with developing these types of generators for application in industry and medical technology.” Currently, the pulse generator is still located at the French laser lab at Palaiseau near Paris, because beginning in December the Dresden scientists are planning on once again working together with their LULI colleagues.

Publication: B. Albertazzi et al. (2014). Laboratory formation of a scaled protostellar jet by coaligned poloidal magnetic field. Science, published online 17 October 2014. DOI: 10.1126/science.1259694

Further Information:
Prof. Dr. Thomas E. Cowan | Institute of Radiation Physics at HZDR
Phone: +49 351 260 - 2270 | Email: t.cowan@hzdr.de
Dr. Thomas Herrmannsdörfer | Dresden High Magnetic Field Laboratory at HZDR
Phone: +49 351 260 - 3320 | Email: t.herrmannsdoerfer@hzdr.de

Media Contact:
Christine Bohnet | Press Officer
Phone: +49 351 260 2450 | Mobile: +49 160 969 288 56 | c.bohnet@hzdr.de | www.hzdr.de
Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf | Bautzner Landstr. 400 | 01328 Dresden

The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) conducts research in the sectors energy, health, and matter. It focuses its research on the following topics:
• How can energy and resources be used efficiently, safely, and sustainably?
• How can malignant tumors be visualized and characterized more precisely and treated effectively?
• How do matter and materials behave in strong fields and at the smallest dimensions?

To answer these scientific questions, several large-scale research facilities provide unique research opportunities. These facilities are also accessible to external users.
The HZDR has been a member of the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest research organization, since 2011. It has four locations in Dresden, Leipzig, Freiberg, and Grenoble and employs about 1,000 people – approx. 500 of whom are scientists including 150 doctoral candidates.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.hzdr.de

Dr. Christine Bohnet | Helmholtz-Zentrum

Further reports about: Cosmic HZDR Helmholtz-Zentrum Magnetic formation magnetic field magnetic fields young stars

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object
23.05.2017 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence
23.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

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: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>