Magnetic reconnection is generated by the irradiation of the LFEX laser into the micro-coil. The particle outflow accelerated by the magnetic reconnection is evaluated using several detectors. As an example of the results, proton outflows with symmetric distributions were observed

Black Hole Plasma Conditions Created on Earth

Scientists at Osaka University use extremely intense laser pulses to make magnetized-plasma conditions like those surrounding a region, the study which will help explain the still mysterious X-rays that can be emitted from some celestial bodies

Black Hole Plasma Conditions Created on Earth

Laser Engineering at Osaka University have successfully used short,

but extremely powerful laser blasts to generate magnetic field reconnection inside a plasma.

This work may cause a more complete theory of X-ray emission from astronomical objects like black holes.

In addition to extreme gravitational forces,

the matter being devoured and by a black hole can be also be pummeled,

by intense heat and magnetic fields.

Plasmas, the fourth state of matter hotter than solids, liquids, or gasses, are made from electrically charged protons and electrons

that have an excessive amount of energy to make neutral atoms.

Instead, they bounce frantically in response to magnetic fields.

One of the world’s largest petawatt laser facility, LFEX, located in the Institute of Laser Engineering at Osaka University.
One of the world’s largest petawatt laser facility, LFEX, located in the Institute of Laser Engineering at Osaka University. Credit: Osaka University

 

Within a Black Hole Plasma Conditions Created on Earth,

magnetic reconnection may be a process during which twisted magnetic flux lines suddenly “snap”

and cancel one another,

leading to the rapid conversion of magnetic energy into particle kinetic energy.

In stars, including our sun, reconnection is liable for much of the coronal activity, like solar flares.

Owing to the strong acceleration, the charged particles within the black hole’s accretion disk emit their own light,

usually within the X-ray region of the spectrum.

To better understand the method that provides rise to the observed X-rays coming from black holes,

scientists at Osaka University used intense laser pulses to make similarly extreme conditions in the lab.

“We were ready to study the high-energy acceleration of electrons and protons because of the results of relativistic magnetic reconnection,”

Senior author Shinsuke Fujioka says. “For example, it is easy to understand the origin of emission from the famous region Cygnus X-1,”

The magnetic field generated inside the micro-coil (left), and the magnetic field lines corresponding to magnetic reconnection (right) are shown. The geometry of the field lines changed significantly during (upper) and after (lower) reconnection.

This level of sunshine intensity isn’t easily obtained, however.

For a quick instant, the laser required two petawatts of power, like one thousand-fold

the electrical consumption of the whole globe.

With the LFEX laser,

the team was ready to achieve peak magnetic fields with a mind-boggling 2,000 teslas.

For comparison,

the magnetic fields generated by an MRI machine to supply diagnostic images are typically around 3 teslas,

Earth’s magnetic flux may be a paltry 0.00005 teslas.

The particles of the plasma are accelerated to such an extreme degree that relativistic effects needed to be considered.

“Previously, relativistic magnetic reconnection could only be studied via numerical simulation on a supercomputer. Now, it’s an experimental reality during a laboratory with powerful lasers,” first author King Fai Farley Law says.

The researchers believe that this project will help elucidate

the astrophysical processes which will happen at places within the Universe that contain extreme magnetic fields.

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