The Recreation of Super-Nova Explosions in a Lab Environment
Supernovas are the explosions of stars and they are the largest explosions in the universe. There are two types of supernovas, one happening in binary star systems and the other at the end of a star’s life cycle. The first occurs when there two stars orbiting the same point and one steals matter from the other star, causing it to accumulate too much matter which results in a supernova. The second type occurs when a star runs out of nuclear fuel. Its mass then starts to flow into its core, causing the core to become too heavy to withstand its own gravitational force causing the collapse of the core, resulting in the explosion of a supernova.
Supernovas have become a useful tool to research our universe; they have been noted throughout history with the earliest records dating back to 125CE, recorded by Chinese astronomers . Supernovae have been used to demonstrate that our universe is accelerating outwards , we also know that supernovae are key to distributing elements throughout our universe . Supernovae have proven key to understanding the universe so any more study of them may prove useful to finding more information about how the universe was formed and how the universe works.
This essay will look at the study of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A’s magnetic field, and attempts to reproduce the conditions that caused the large strength magnetic field that has been recorded by X-ray and radio observations in a laboratory environment.
Cassiopeia A is a supernova remnant in the Cassiopeia constellation in the Milky Way. It is one of the strongest radio source outside of our solar system. Its relative closeness and bright radio signals allowed for radio polarisation and high-resolution X-rays to be used to map two strong magnetic field religions. Narrow X-rays are detected at the outer edge of the area of turbulence, these x-rays are can be explained through radiation emitted by electrons spinning rapidly around a magnetic field line (synchrotron emission). The other magnetic field is located in the interior of the remnant and is detected due to the emission of radio waves through synchrotron emission also. These magnetic fields were much bigger than was to be expected. These observations and those of the movements of materials in the remnants suggests that there is a large cloud of materials present. New movements through this cloud coincide with bright radio emissions, this would point to movements through this medium creating large magnetic fields.
To recreate the environment in the lab they fired lasers through plasma. Plasma being an ionized gas with positive ions and free electrons which has no overall charge, which is kept at a very high temperature. In the wake of the lasers path they then had a magnetic field and overserved the change over time. Some of these results are detailed below:
In Fig. a, we see a view of magnetic strengths. The green background is the plasma and the white dotted line is the previous path of the laser. We can see that as the magnetic field passes through the wake of the laser it starts to grow in size and strength. The further increase in time leads to a higher magnetic strength.
This research provides us with a relatively simple idea of why large magnetic fields are produced in supernovae and how they are produced, but also how they could be produced in other locations in space. This allows us to further understand how supernovae happen and what effect they have on an area in space, this permits us to understand more about how to travel in space and in effect could let us understand how to navigate near and around supernovae. This is significant as supernovae are very common in the in the universe as time goes on only more are going to be produced. Not having an understanding of how these large magnetic fields are produced could create problems in the future when it comes to navigating around supernovae. The large magnetic fields and radiation could be a large problem for spacecraft in the future, especially for the computers on board. Magnets can wipe hard drives and could cause issues with navigation, communications and tools used for data collection. With an understanding of how these environments are produced hardware can be tested on earth in a simulated environment. This could boost success rates of missions and allow us to travel further in the universe than ever before.
However, this understanding could have negatives, such as the militarization of magnets to disable electronics, EMPs are currently viable and using large magnetic fields that can grow could be devastating if used against an area to its digital infrastructure especially during a time when we are becoming more and more reliant upon technology. It also could produce radiation which can apart from causing health problems to humans has the ability to wipe information from computers, so an unstable growth of a magnetic field could cause a large EMP effect, wiping information and causing health problems, although the chances of this happening would be quite low the possibility of weaponization from scientific breakthroughs is something that should be considered.