University Researchers See Stars

An Oxford-led team of international scientists successfully recreated the extreme temperature and pressure conditions of the stars.

Using the world’s brightest X-ray laser pulses, the team focused the X-rays onto a spot thirty times smaller than the width of human hair. The metal foil was heated to two million degrees Celsius within a fraction of a trillionth of a second.

The team found that metal heated to such high temperatures so quickly that the atoms in the foil barely had time to move. As a result, the foil did not get the chance to expand and explode. Within the solar system these conditions can only be found inside the Sun.

Dr Sam Vinko, a member of the University’s Physics faculty said that this study was important scientifically “if we are to understand the sort of conditions that exist inside stars and at the centre of giant planets, without our own solar system and beyond.”

The team comprised researchers from nine other institutions around the world, and was based in Stanford, California.