Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researcher Uses 100,000 Degree Heat To Study Plasma, What Happens To Matter Around Black Holes

Date:
September 5, 2009
Source:
University of Nevada, Reno
Summary:
A researcher is studying ultra-high temperature and non-equilibrium plasmas to mimic what happens to matter in accretion disks around black holes. The work will enable astrophysicists to better understand what happens around black holes and in active galactic nuclei. Scientists will also better understand the application of high-energy density plasmas to energy production, such as controlled nuclear fusion (produced in the laboratory), and production of X-ray sources for a variety of applications.

Roberto Mancini, professor and chair of the University of Nevada, Reno Physics Department stands next to the experiment chamber of the University’s Nevada Terawatt Facility 2-terawatt Zebra accelerator, one of the two most powerful University based pulse-power generators nationwide, where researchers come to conduct high energy density plasma experiments.
Credit: Photo by Mike Wolterbeek. University of Nevada, Reno

Using one of the greatest artificial sources of radiation energy, University of Nevada, Reno researcher and faculty member Roberto Mancini is studying ultra-high temperature and non-equilibrium plasmas to mimic what happens to matter in accretion disks around black holes.

Physics department professor and chair Mancini has received a $690,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue his research in high energy density plasma; plasmas are considered to be the fourth state of matter. He will serve as principal investigator for a project titled "Experiments and Modeling of Photo-ionized Plasmas at Z."

"Receiving awards such as this exemplifies the academic caliber and national importance of the work in our Physics Department," Jeff Thompson, dean of the College of Science said. "We're proud of the team of researchers here working on cutting-edge science."

Mancini has been studying the atomic and radiation properties of high-energy density plasmas for more than 15 years, and this new grant will allow him to further explore what happens to matter when it is subjected to extreme conditions of temperature and radiation – similar to what happens to many astrophysical objects in the universe.

The research will enable astrophysicists to better understand what happens around black holes and in active galactic nuclei. Scientists will also better understand the application of high-energy density plasmas to energy production, such as controlled nuclear fusion (produced in the laboratory), and production of X-ray sources for a variety of applications.

"Using theories and tools created here at the University to design and analyze experiments, we then go to the only national facility that has the capacity to deliver the high-intensity flux of X-rays required to perform and measure these experiments," Mancini said. "We custom build instrumentation in our machine shop that meets the high standard set by the national facility so that it will fit onto the target chamber of the pulsed-power Z-machine, enabling us to conduct this unique experiment."

The pulsed-power machine at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico (similar in concept but larger than the University's Nevada Terawatt Facility Zebra accelerator) is the most powerful source of X-rays on earth, Mancini said.

"We subject a very small cell – a 1-inch by -inch cube – filled with a gas, such as neon, to this tremendous, short burst of X-ray energy," he said. "It's about 10 nanoseconds of the most intense power on earth – creating conditions of hundreds of thousands of degrees and millions of atmospheres in pressure – in the form of X-rays."

The researchers can then compare their extensive computer modeling and calculations with the measurements so they can study and explain the extreme state of matter (plasma) created during those 10 nanoseconds, which mimics the majority of matter found throughout the universe.

"We are using a unique imaging X-ray spectrometer to measure the intensity distribution of radiation as a function of wavelength, which tells us what happens with the plasma," Mancini said. From detailed analysis of the data, Mancini can extract the plasma's density, ionization and temperature.

He said the plasma reaches extreme conditions, very unlike the low-energy plasma found in a neon light or a plasma television screen, with light 1,000 times more energetic than visible light, temperature as high as 100,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and ionization mainly driven by the action of the X-ray flux going through the plasma.

The University of Nevada, Reno Physics Department has a team of about 20 scientists, faculty and research associates working on a variety of projects in the field of High Energy Density Plasma Physics Research. Mancini emphasized that having strong research programs is critical for the quality of education and training that the University can provide to students.

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded grants to 28 researchers from 18 states as part of a new program in High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas (HEDLP), a joint program with grants funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy Office of Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nevada, Reno. The original article was written by Mike Wolterbeek. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Nevada, Reno. "Researcher Uses 100,000 Degree Heat To Study Plasma, What Happens To Matter Around Black Holes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902161120.htm>.
University of Nevada, Reno. (2009, September 5). Researcher Uses 100,000 Degree Heat To Study Plasma, What Happens To Matter Around Black Holes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902161120.htm
University of Nevada, Reno. "Researcher Uses 100,000 Degree Heat To Study Plasma, What Happens To Matter Around Black Holes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902161120.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) The smallest of Saturn's main moons, Mimas, wobbles as it orbits. Research reveals it might be due to a global ocean underneath its icy surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins