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World's biggest laser crushes diamond

Posted on Friday, 18 July, 2014 | Comment icon 6 comments

Inside the NIF preamplifiers. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
A giant laser has been used to simulate the pressures present within the cores of the gas giant planets.
It might be the world's hardest material, but even diamond is unable to withstand the hellish conditions found within the cores of the solar system's largest bodies.

With pressures several times greater than those found inside the Earth's core the interiors of the gas giants have remained something of a mystery, but now by simulating those conditions using the world's largest laser scientists have been able to find out for the first time what processes might be going on inside them.

"We don't know what lies within the core of Jupiter or Saturn but now for the first time we now have the ability to study how matter exists under these extreme conditions of pressure and temperature," said study lead author Dr Ray Smith.

"It has been proposed, for example, that Neptune has a diamond in its core, due to decomposition of methane which gets compacted under extreme pressure. The Kepler space mission has found Neptune-sized planets to be very common in our galaxy."

The laser used in the experiment, which is located in the US National Ignition Facility, uses up to 192 individual beams to focus immense amounts of energy on to a single target.

Source: BBC News | Comments (6)

Tags: Saturn, Diamond

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by bubblykiss on 18 July, 2014, 16:07
Can this technology be employed to crush our nation's crippling debt? Or just valuable diamonds?
Comment icon #2 Posted by shrooma on 18 July, 2014, 17:48
sounds like part one of a Death Star if you ask me.... . mwahahahaaa.......
Comment icon #3 Posted by jarjarbinks on 18 July, 2014, 18:05
omg beat me for the death star joke... do you think that the imperial workers at 2M from the superlaser got cancer ?
Comment icon #4 Posted by pallidin on 18 July, 2014, 21:36
My best friend works at the NIF, but not on the lasers themselves, he's one of the sys admins for it's computers. I'll have to ask him about this.
Comment icon #5 Posted by gatekeeper32 on 19 July, 2014, 6:08
Comment icon #6 Posted by pallidin on 19 July, 2014, 18:21
TMI, sorry.

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