The beginnings of a fast radio burst reproduced in the laboratory!

The beginnings of a fast radio burst reproduced in the laboratory!

The fast radio bursts are one of the most great cosmic mysteries From our era. These powerful explosions are extremely brief. They emit in a few milliseconds electromagnetic radiation capable of discharging as much energy as 500 million suns. This is why they can be detected up to galaxies located millions or billions of light-years away. Perplexed by this strange phenomenon, many scientists have tried to find the cause these last years.

It was not until April 2020 that a group of American researchers put forward a relevant explanation for these famous fast radio bursts. They noticed these brief, powerful flashes of radio waves were coming directly from the center of the Milky Waywhere the magnetars.

These neutron stars are known to emit a extremely strong magnetic field. Their magnetic field is about 1,000 times stronger than that of a normal neutron star.

Magnetic radiation from magnetars is believed to cause fast radio bursts

Some physicists then suggested that the high energy electromagnetic radiation emitted by the magnetars would be at the origin of these fast radio bursts. They believe that these brief explosions are the result of the voltage between the strong magnetic field which escapes from the star and the pressure exerted by gravity.

Image of a planet emitting fast radio bursts.

This same magnetic field is responsible for the formation in space around the magnetar of a plasma peer made up of matter-antimatter pairs. These pairs of electrons and positrons will also play a role important in initiating these fast radio bursts. These matter-antimatter pairs of equal masses have a strange behavior, they form and then annihilate spontaneously.

Laboratory experiments to reproduce the phenomenon

Scientists have even managed to reproduce this phenomenon in the laboratory by creating a magnetar environment on a small scale. Instead of simulating a strong electromagnetic field, the researchers used a powerful laser to create this even plasma. They started by creating a beam of electrons that travels at very high speed. Then a laser is fired at this beam and the collision which results creates a plasma of pairs.

the collective behavior of these even plasmas causes cascades of reactions at the origin of fast radio bursts. As these chain reactions are extremely difficult to observea series of experiments are planned by the National Accelerator Laboratory with the aim of recreating them in the laboratory.


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