To study the mechanisms of stellar death, this group of scientists simulated miniature supernovae on Earth

2020-06-15

Don't be surprised to hear that scientists are using the Large Particle Collider to simulate a black hole on Earth. Not only are they simulating a black hole, but they are also trying to create a "supernova" on Earth, and they've succeeded....

A supernova explosion is one of the most violent celestial events in the universe, and it is the way in which yellow dwarfs or larger stars end their lives when they reach the end of their evolution.

For astronomers, supernova explosions are a great opportunity to make astronomical observations. However, it is again something that is unavailable, no one can predict which stars will explode, and some supernovae are so far ahead of the explosion that we simply invisible. It's also hard to spot and observe them in the first place when they erupt, so we miss a lot of important information.

We already know that the wreckage of a supernova is a cosmic-scale particle accelerator. After a supernova explodes, the core begins to explore, while the outer shell expands outward, simultaneously releasing a massive amount of plasma, creating a powerful Shockwave. Essentially, this shock wave is more similar to the sonic boom produced by supersonic aircraft. A large number of subatomic particles, including electrons, form terrifying cosmic rays that are released into the universe at nearly the speed of light. Scientists tell us that if we could see such horrific images with our own eyes, it would reveal a bright piece of space forming a Air bubbles, very weird.

We've never actually seen them, despite what the theory says. These supernovae are so far away, easily hundreds of thousands or even hundreds of millions of light-years away, that we can only use advanced telescopes for observations. However, even with such advanced telescopes, it is still impossible to image the subatomic particles within them. As a result, there are still many unanswered questions about how supernova outbursts work.

Recently, however, scientists from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University have been able to simulate a supernova on Earth's Shockwave. Of course, you don't have to worry about getting blown up at all, because the energy of this simulated shockwave is nowhere near enough to cause damage like Tiny black holes created by scientists are just as inadequate. However, despite their very small power, scientists can still gain a great deal of information from them to solve the mystery of supernovae.

"The details of the structure of many of the impacts in the universe are difficult to decipher directly, which gives us the opportunity to study their injection mechanisms presents a huge challenge." SLAC's senior staff scientist Frederico Fiuza said. So, he and his team moved the "battlefield" to Earth to replicate supernova explosions on a very small scale, using Particle accelerators release electrons to simulate the process of ejecting electrons during a supernova explosion, thereby understanding the subatomic particle shock waves of supernovae.

However, co-author Anna Grassi, also from SLAC, points out that "even through the experiments, nor can we observe the details of a particle's acquisition of energy, let alone in astronomical observations, which is exactly what computer simulations The stage is set for a great show of power." As a result, they also ran computer simulations and analyses that provided unprecedented depth into some of the mysteries of the supernova explosion process mechanism. After repeated experiments and analyses, they finally solved the puzzle and published their results in Nature Physics .


They point out that when a supernova explodes, the electrons in it, as well as particles such as the atomic nucleus, explode in a way that is called a "supernova.No collision impactThe shockwave is ejected in the form of a plasma. The source of this shock wave, which is present from before to after the eruption, is plasma. These plasma form a strong magnetic field that is constantly being emitted, excited and absorbed. In the magnetic field formed by the plasma, electrons are pushed around by the field and in the process are accelerated to near the speed of light.

However, scientists still have a question about this: what mechanism allows them to achieve such incredible speeds?

To that end, Fiuza et al. shot a beam of high-energy lasers at a specially made carbon sheet and played one of the most violent games on Earth in human history " The "laser game" resulted in the creation of a powerful plasma. Here's how: they fired two lasers successively at the carbon sheet, and when the first laser reflected it, it was matched with the second. The lasers collided. When the two plasma beams collided, they produced a shockwave that was the remnants of the supernova they were imitating.

Using optical means such as X-rays, Fiuza and his colleagues were able to detect it and found that this time the replica supernova fit all the characteristics of a naturally occurring supernova in the universe, but on a very small scale.

While replica supernovae and computer simulations have largely resolved the scientists' questions, some questions remain. Solution.Fiuza has discovered that at the very beginning of the supernova explosion, electrons have been accelerated to near the speed of light, or they There is simply no way to penetrate a shockwave. But like we said above, they still don't know the reason why electrons can gain such incredible speed, and that's what Grassi The time has come when said computer simulations need to come into play. They found that the electrons gaining such high speeds were accompanied by intense X-rays, which they believed might be The answer to this question.

(Image caption: computer simulation of the turbulent structure of the magnetic field in two shock waves moving away from each other)

In addition, their current study focuses on electrons and does not examine other particles. Protons, for example, may also carry many secrets of the universe that are waiting to be discovered. "Our study provides new angles of observation for the ejection of electrons during impact and provides a human-controllable accelerator for the The study of cosmic physics opens up new paths," Fiuza said.


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