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Home / Science / Pioneering high-power laser beams simulate what it's like to penetrate super Earth exoplanets

Pioneering high-power laser beams simulate what it's like to penetrate super Earth exoplanets



A powerful laser beam device allowed scientists to experiment on the core components of super-earths or exoplanets. The experiment provided results that could answer the question of whether exoplanets are worth living in the future. ( NASA | Getty Images )

Researchers experiment with a new technique with what is beneath the super-Earths. In the future they want to further analyze further material compositions of exoplanets.

With the new powerful laser beams, researchers can experiment directly on the nucleus of a planet that is three times the size of the Earth and analyze its composition despite the heavy pressure it contains.

There Has Never Beed Similar Experimental Experiment "Since scientists have relied on either theoretical calculations or complicated extrapolations of low-pressure data, Thomas Duffy, professor of geosciences at Princeton University, explains.

Habitable exoplanets

With this new Laser beam technology, researchers hope that they can next investigate the likelihood that plate tectonics exists on exoplanets, that these planets can create a magnetic field, and how these super-earths process their thermal evolution.

Finally, further experiments with the breakthrough device Finally, the results provide answers to the crucial question of whether exoplanets are habitable

Extreme pressures

To date, there are more th a 2,000 super-earths that have already been identified. They are larger than Earth, but not so big like Neptune. [1

9659007] These exoplanets are not like bodies found in the solar system. Without an independent model, scientists can not get to know the actual environment of these super-earths. Earlier studies were limited by the fact that Earth's own planetary core still needs to be measured for comparison.

The hardest part is that the pressure under these exoplanets can reach more than ten times the pressure in the center of the earth. 19659007] With the omega laser beams, the scientists achieved a breakthrough pressure of up to 1,314 gigapascals (GPa). Earlier experiments with diamond anvil cells rarely reach more than 300 GPa. In comparison, the pressure in the earth's core can be up to 360 GPa.

This achievement could be more helpful in modeling the interior of larger and rocky exoplanets, Duffy explained in the study Science Advances

Core of the Super-Earths

Duffy explains that the Core of the Earth is made of iron, which consists of about 10 percent of a lighter element. The best candidate for the lighter element is silicon, both for the earth and for the exoplanets. The scientists played with these two material compositions in their experiment.

June Wicks, senior investigator of the study, and her team are aiming for two iron samples with the powerful laser beams. A sample is alloyed with 7% by weight of silicon, which is closer to the composition of the earth. The other is alloyed with 15% by weight of silicon, which is closer to the composition of the exoplanetary inner surface.

The team found that the first sample in contact with short but intense laser beams organized their crystal structure in a hexagonal termination (19659007) Meanwhile, the second sample organized its crystal structure similar to a body-centered cubic packing like the one in this video:

The researchers also applied the various amount of pressures in the iron-silicon alloy composition. At the most extreme pressures, the composition reaches 17 to 18 grams per cubic centimeter. This is about 2.5 times compared to the density on the earth's surface. It is also comparable to the density of gold or platinum on the earth's surface.

The team also found that silicon alloys are less dense than unalloyed iron, even after application of high pressures. From this they concluded that a planet made of a pure iron core is not plausible.

The next step will be to find the exact composition of the lighter elements on exoplanets.

For the time being, the researchers said they had reached an important conclusion in the core composition of super Earth exoplanets – the first to be considered more realistic compounds.

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