On June 19th researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology created a “supernova machine” to better understand the physics behind supernovae,media reported. Supernovae are a violent explosion that some stars experience as they evolve toward the end. The explosions are extremely bright, and the electromagnetic radiation that occurs in the process often illuminates the entire galaxy in which it is located, and can take several weeks to months before it fades. Large-mass stars can explode tens of billions of times as much as the sun’s light, equivalent to the total light of the entire Milky Way galaxy.
Now, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are “recreating” the process in a lab, designing a “supernova machine” to help study turbulence logistics.
The device is shaped like a pizza, with a tip facing down, 6 feet (1.8 meters) high and a top about 4 feet (1.2 meters) wide. The middle window is filled with gases of different densities to simulate different gases inside the star.
To trigger a “supernova explosion,” the bottom of the machine is filled with research explosives and tetranitrinate tetraolestol (PETN). This will result in a tiny container capable of exploding, which is mixed by the pizza slices and gas-emitting shock waves. The gases are then exposed to lasers and the process is observed using high-speed cameras.
The machine does not fully simulate the supernova explosion, the researchers said, but also needs to take into account factors such as background radiation, temperature and gravity. In addition, the machine can only be simulated in two dimensions, while supernovae usually appear as an expanded three-dimensional sphere.
However, the machine could help astronomers calculate the speed of gas in the nebula and more accurately determine when they were born, and even help develop nuclear fusion reactors.