Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Star light, star bright: FSU facility duplicating conditions of supernovas

16.08.2007
How is matter created? What happens when stars die? Is the universe shrinking, or is it expanding? For decades, scientists have been looking for answers to such "big picture" questions.

For the past few months, members of the department of physics at Florida State University have begun using a groundbreaking new research facility to conduct experiments that may help provide answers to just such questions.

RESOLUT -- short for "REsonator SOLenoid with Upscale Transmission" -- is the name of the facility, which is located within the John D. Fox Superconducting Accelerator Laboratory on the FSU campus. Over the past few months, FSU researchers have begun using RESOLUT to create very rare, extremely short-lived radioactive particles similar to those that form inside exploding stars -- and then using the analytical data produced in the experiments as the basis for hypotheses about the behavior of matter and the physical properties governing the universe.

"We're doing experiments that replicate, in a very controlled manner, the explosions that take place in stars," said Ingo Wiedenhover, an associate professor of physics at FSU who heads up the RESOLUT team. "This helps us understand the nuclear processes that occur in stars, the origin of elements, and how stars explode."

Getting to this point has been an arduous process that began in 2002.

"After five years of proposals, fundraising, designing, building and carefully testing RESOLUT, we are very excited that it has now come online for experiments," said Samuel L. Tabor, a professor of physics at FSU who directs the John D. Fox Superconducting Accelerator Laboratory. "To my knowledge, only one other university in the entire United States has a facility similar to RESOLUT, so our students have a pretty unique opportunity to receive hands-on experience that they can get almost nowhere else."

Weighing some 16 tons and taking up more than 450 square feet of space along a wall inside the accelerator lab, RESOLUT enables researchers to fire a beam of atomic particles through a steel tube at speeds approaching 60 million miles per hour -- roughly one-tenth the speed of light -- and then to observe the nuclear reactions that occur.

"When the beam strikes a target, the collision produces very exotic nuclei that contain properties similar to those occurring in stars and star explosions," Wiedenhover said. "But perhaps RESOLUT's greatest value as a scientific instrument is its function as a mass spectrometer -- a device that allows us to identify and study the short-lived particles created during these miniature explosions."

Wiedenhover currently is overseeing several experiments using RESOLUT that create, for a fraction of a second, a specific type of radioactive nuclei that are found only in a type of exploding star known as a Type Ia supernova.

"Type Ia supernovas result when a certain type of star known as a white dwarf reaches a critical mass and burns through its nuclear fuel so quickly that it suddenly explodes," Wiedenhover said. "What makes these explosions so useful for astrophysicists is that they always release the same amount of energy, so their peak brightness is virtually the same in all instances. This uniform level of brightness makes Type Ia supernovas useful as a 'standard candle' -- a gauge for measuring distances across the universe."

Such standard candles also have helped scientists to determine in recent years that the universe is expanding, not shrinking -- and that the expansion is taking place at an ever-increasing rate.

"Observations of Type Ia supernovas have greatly increased science's understanding of the workings of the universe," Tabor said. "Now, with RESOLUT, we hope to learn even more about these gigantic nuclear explosions -- all from the safety of a lab in a basement on the FSU campus."

Barry Ray | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fsu.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>