Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Lab experiments mimic a star’s energy bursts


A key process that enhances the production of nuclear energy in the interior of dense stars has been re-created in the laboratory for the first time by physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The work may help scientists study topics such as nuclear fusion as a possible energy source and demonstrates a new method for studying and modeling dense stellar objects such as white dwarfs.

This false color image shows an ultracold plasma of 26,000 beryllium ions fluorescing when hit by a laser pulse.

The NIST experiments, described in the Jan. 18 issue of Physical Review Letters,* involve temperature measurements of ultracold crystals as they melt. First, a "plasma" of tens of thousands of singly charged beryllium atoms is trapped using electric and magnetic fields and then cooled to almost absolute zero using lasers. When the lasers are turned off, the plasma begins to heat up. At 10 milliKelvin---just 0.01 degree above absolute zero---the temperature suddenly rises more than 10 billion times faster than predicted by theory. This burst of energy in a very cold system of highly interactive particles is believed to mimic events occurring inside the hot, dense interiors of stars, where plasmas of highly charged atoms undergo accelerated nuclear reactions.

Beryllium ions are frequently used in NIST research on topics such as development of future atomic clocks and quantum computing studies. Such rapid heating was first noticed in experiments attempting to prepare special states of beryllium ions that can improve the precision of an atomic clock.

Scientists have suspected for decades that the fusion of atoms that powers stars is enhanced when the plasmas at their cores somehow reduce the natural repulsion between charged ions, increasing the chances that pairs of ions will collide and produce nuclear reactions. NIST researchers found that, at a certain temperature, their trapped beryllium ions also collided more frequently and that the plasma temperature suddenly shot up. In this case, the collisions resulted in a transfer of energy between two types of motions made by the ions.

Laura Ost | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht 'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region
16.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Fraunhofer HHI have developed a novel single-polarization Kramers-Kronig receiver scheme
16.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

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: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>