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Peering into Giant Planets from in and out of This World
Date:7/17/2014

93d3ctcGxzLmxsbmwuZ292Lz91cmw9YWJvdXRfcGxzLXNjaWVudGlmaWNfc3RhZmYtc21pdGhfcg==" title="Ray Smith" onclick="linkClick(this.href)" rel="nofollow">Ray Smith, LLNL physicist and lead author of the paper.

Such pressures have been reached before, but only with shock waves that also create high temperatures -- hundreds of thousands of degrees or more -- that are not realistic for planetary interiors. The technical challenge was keeping temperatures low enough to be relevant to planets. The problem is similar to moving a plow slowly enough to push sand forward without building it up in height. This was accomplished by carefully tuning the rate at which the laser intensity changes with time.

"This new ability to explore matter at atomic scale pressures, where extrapolations of earlier shock and static data become unreliable, provides new constraints for dense matter theories and planet evolution models," said Rip Collins, another Lawrence Livermore physicist on the team.

The data described in this work are among the first tests for predictions made in the early days of quantum mechanics, more than 80 years ago, which are routinely used to describe matter at the center of planets and stars. While agreement between these new data and theory are good, there are important differences discovered, suggesting potential hidden treasures in the properties of diamond compressed to such extremes. Future experiments on NIF are focused on further unlocking these mysteries.

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12027432.htm.


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