Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Scientists Create World's Most Powerful Laser in Miniature in the Lab





It has been recently proposed that the best way to work out how gamma ray bursts are produced would be by mimicking them in small-scale reproductions in the laboratory—reproducing a little source of these electron-positron beams and look at how they evolve when left on their own. Scientists have recently succeeded in creating the first small-scale replica of this phenomenon by using one of the most intense lasers on Earth, the Gemini laser, hosted by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK.

How intense is the most intense laser on Earth? Take all the solar power that hits the whole Earth and squeeze it into a few microns (basically the thickness of a human hair) and you have got the intensity of a typical laser shot in Gemini. Shooting this laser onto a complex target, we were able to release ultra-fast and dense copies of these astrophysical jets and make ultra-fast movies of how they behave. The scaling down of these experiments is dramatic: take a real jet that extends even for thousands of light years and compresses it down to a few millimetres.

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