Scientists Create Star Matter In California

Illustration for article titled Scientists Create Star Matter In California

You're looking at the heart of the most powerful X-Ray laser machine ever created by humans, billions of times stronger than anything before it. It's the Linac Coherent Light Source and it has made something that nobody has made before in this planet: the kind of matter that you can only find in the heart of stars and giant planets.


US Department of Energy's scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory fired the LCLS at a small cube of aluminum only one-thousandth of a centimeter (0.00039 inches) on a side. As the X-Ray rapid-fire laser pulses converged on the aluminum, it created a superhot solid plasma burning at 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit (two million degrees Celsius).

That's hotter than the temperature of the Sun corona.

It only happened in less than one trillionth of a second and it's still far below the 14 million Kelvin (13.9 million degrees Celsius) at the heart of our home star but, according to lead paper author Sam Vinko, it will help understanding how stars work and, eventually, help us recreate the nuclear fusion process that powers the Sun:

The LCLS X-ray laser is a truly remarkable machine. Making extremely hot, dense matter is important scientifically if we are ultimately to understand the conditions that exist inside stars and at the center of giant planets within our own solar system and beyond.


In the image above you can see the Linac Coherent Light Source SXR experimental chamber. In the center there's the container for the aluminum cube that gets converted into the solid plasma. [SLAC]

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How exactly does 14 million Kelvin translate to 13.9 million Celsius? 14,000,000 - 273.15 = 13.9 million?