Laboratory experiments now entail the creation of miniature explosions in order to simulate phenomena that occur in space. Recently, a particular kind of plasma (a gas that is so hot that some or all its constituent atoms are split up into electrons and ions, with independent locomotive abilities) was created by an international team of researchers called an electron-positron plasma, the beams of which create strong and durable magnetic fields. Inaccessible violent systems such as the gamma ray bursts in space can be better understood with the simulation of these fields.

This beam was made using the Gemini laser at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom along with a special setup. The intense laser pulse was passed through a chamber filled with helium, thereby creating a beam of electrons. A set target was kept which upon being hit by the electrons create the electron-positron beams, both components being equal in number as antimatter partners.

Researcher Gianluca Sarri from Queens University, Belfast, has explained that their observation for the first time, showed some important phenomena that play a crucial role in the generation of gamma-ray bursts and “the self-generation of magnetic fields that lasted a long time.” Some long-standing theoretical predictions have been able to be confirmed regarding the “strength and distribution of these fields.” Thus, this also proves that the experiment which aims to understand gamma-ray bursts better are proceeding on the right path.

Although this concept is not new for the team, they have been able to measure the long-lasting magnetic fields and the EPB’s behavior this time by passing it through a background plasma, which consists of electrons and atoms, or ions, and not positron, as published in Physical Review Letters.

These miniature experiments simplify and elucidate on how gamma-ray bursts form in actual astrophysical systems such as black holes, which is pretty similar to the outcome results in the lab. However, obvious limitations to this endeavor are the simple fact that a small room cannot emulate a mammoth system like a black hole, although it can help in grasping the workings of the same better. It clarifies whether a signal spotted in space comes from a stellar or an alien source. Sarri elaborates: “Our study helps towards understanding black hole and pulsar emissions, so that, whenever we detect anything similar, we know that it is not coming from an alien civilization.”

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