December 13, 2012

X-ray laser takes aim at cosmic mystery

An international collaboration including researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has refined a key process in understanding extreme plasmas such as those found in the sun, stars, at the rims of black holes and galaxy clusters.

In short, the team identified a new solution to an astrophysical phenomenon through a series of laser experiments.

In the new research, appearing in the Dec. 13 edition of the journal Nature, scientists looked at highly charged iron using the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) free-electron laser. Highly charged iron produces some of the brightest X-ray emission lines from hot astrophysical objects, including galaxy clusters, stellar cornea and the emission of the sun.