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Unraveling the obscure explosive process that takes place around the universe – ScienceDaily

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Mysterious fast radio bursts emit as much energy in one second as the Sun erupts in a year, and are one of the most mysterious phenomena in the universe. Now researchers from Princeton University, the Princeton Plasma Laboratory (PPPL) of the U.S. Department of Energy and the National SLAC Accelerator Laboratory have modeled and proposed a cost-effective experiment to produce and observe the early stages of this process. it was thought to be impossible with existing technology.

Unusual bursts in space produce celestial bodies such as neutron or collapsed stars, called magnetars (magnet + star), enclosed in extreme magnetic fields. These fields are so strong that they transform a vacuum in space into an exotic plasma consisting of matter and antimatter in the form of pairs of negatively charged electrons and positively charged positrons, according to quantum electrodynamic theory (QED). It is believed that the radiation of these vapors is responsible for powerful rapid radio bursts.

Steam plasma

The plasma of the antimatter substance, called “paired plasma”, is different from ordinary plasma, which stimulates the reactions of synthesis and is 99% of the visible universe. This plasma consists of matter only in the form of electrons and atomic nuclei of much greater mass or ions. The electron-positron plasma consists of the same mass but opposite charged particles to be annihilated and created. Such plasma can exhibit completely different collective behaviors.

“Our laboratory simulation is a small-scale analogue of the magnetic environment,” said physicist Kenan Qu of the Princeton Department of Astrophysics. “This allows us to analyze paired QED plasma,” said Qu, the first author of a study demonstrated in Plasma physics as Scilight, or scientific point, and the first author of an article in Physical Review Letters, about which this article expands.

“Instead of simulating a strong magnetic field, we use a strong laser,” Qu said. “It converts energy into steam plasma through so-called QED cascades. Then the paired plasma shifts the laser pulse to a higher frequency, ”he said. “The exciting result demonstrates the prospects for the creation and observation of paired QED plasma in laboratories and allows experiments to be tested to test theories of rapid radio bursts.”

The paired plasmas produced in the lab were created earlier, said physicist Net Fish, a professor of astrophysics at Princeton University and assistant director of scientific research at PPPL, who is the lead researcher in the study. “And we think we know what laws govern their collective behavior,” Fish said. “But until we produce in the laboratory a steam plasma that demonstrates collective phenomena that we can study, we cannot be absolutely sure of that.

Collective behavior

“The problem is that collective behavior in paired plasma is known to be difficult to observe,” he added. “So an important step for us was to see this as a problem of joint production monitoring, recognizing that an excellent observation method eases the conditions of what needs to be produced, and in turn leads us to a more practical user facility.”

The unique simulation proposed in the paper creates a high-density paired QED plasma by colliding a laser with a dense electron beam moving close to the speed of light. This approach is cost-effective compared to the commonly proposed method of colliding high-power lasers to produce QED cascades. The approach also slows the movement of plasma particles, thus allowing stronger collective effects.

“There are no lasers strong enough to achieve this today, and their creation could cost billions of dollars,” Qu said. “Our approach strongly supports the use of an electron beam accelerator and a moderately strong laser to achieve paired QED plasma. The result of our study is that supporting this approach can save a lot of money.”

Preparations are currently underway for modeling testing with a new cycle of laser and electronic experiments in SLAC. “In a sense, what we’re doing here is the starting point of a cascade that produces radio bursts,” said Sebastian Moren, an SLAC researcher and former visiting fellow at Princeton University who co-wrote two papers with Qi and Fish.

An experiment is developing

“If we could observe something like a radio burst in the lab, it would be extremely exciting,” Maren said. “But the first part is just to observe the scattering of electron beams, and once we do that, we’ll improve the laser intensity to achieve a higher density to actually see the electron-positron pairs. The idea is that our experiment will be develop over the next two years or so. ”

The overall goal of this study is to understand how bodies like magnetars create paired plasma and what new physics is associated with rapid radio bursts, Qu said. “These are the main issues that interest us.”

This collaborative work was supported by grants from the National Nuclear Safety Agency (NNSA) to Princeton University through the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, and grants from the Department of Health to Stanford University.

Source of history:

Materials provided DOE / Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The original was written by John Greenwald. Note: Content can be edited by style and length.

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