Scientists Create Gamma Rays The Most Intense Form Of Light In The Lab

Posted: Jan 20 2018, 2:31am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Scientists Create Gamma Rays the Most Intense Form of Light in the Lab
Illustration of a gamma ray burst in space. Credit: ESO/A. Roquette, CC BY-SA

A mini version of a gamma ray burst created in the laboratory for the first time

For the first time, researchers have managed to create gamma rays bursts under lab conditions. The effort is important and marks an important step to understand a mysterious astronomical phenomenon.

Gamma rays are the most energetic form of light in the universe. Lasting no longer than few milliseconds or minutes, gamma rays bursts are hundreds of times brighter than a typical supernova and about a million trillion times as bright as the Sun. Some of the bursts are so bright that they can be observed with the naked eye, such as the burst "GRB 080319B" spotted by NASA's Swift GRB Explorer mission on March 19, 2008.

Despite all that, researchers don’t really know what causes gamma rays bursts. The answer lies in directly studying these intense bursts of light, which is something never before accomplished.

Not only do these bursts last for short periods of time but they also come from distant galaxies, sometimes even billion light years from Earth. That makes them hard to study in real time.

To solve the problem, researchers recreated their own mini version of a gamma ray burst in the laboratory. This opens up a whole new way to investigate their properties.

In the experiment, researchers used one of the most intense lasers on Earth, the Gemini laser, hosted by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK. When the laser hits a complex target, it release ultra-fast and dense copies of these astrophysical jets and make ultra-fast movies of how they behave.

With the help of the laser, researchers were able to confirm some major theoretical predictions of the strength and distribution of the magnetic fields of gamma rays bursts, which could possibly help determine their origin.

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