Physics & Astronomy News

<p>Schematic view of a bubble implosion, which is an envisioned picture showing the whole main events integrated, i.e., laser illumination, hot electron spread, implosion, and proton flash. (credit/ M. Murakami)</p>
Laser-driven Implosion
Scientists have discovered a novel particle acceleration mechanism called ‘micro-bubble implosion’
<p>Owens Valley Solar Array (EOVSA)</p>
New Insights into Solar Flares
New insights into solar flares' explosive energy releases were released by the Owens Valley Solar Array (EOVSA)

<p>In this illustration, the grid in the background represents the computational lattice that theoretical physicists used to calculate a particle property known as nucleon axial coupling. This property determines how a W boson (white wavy line) interacts with one of the quarks in a neutron (large transparent sphere in foreground), emitting an electron (large arrow) and antineutrino (dotted arrow) in a process called beta decay. This process transforms the neutron into a proton (distant transparent sphere). (Credit: Evan Berkowitz/Jülich Research Center, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)</p>
Life and Death of a Neutron
Experiments that measure the lifetime of neutrons reveal a perplexing and unresolved discrepancy.
<p>Precision assembly and mechanical technician Ryan Wilkinson inspects MOMA during thermal vacuum testing at Goddard</p>

<p>Credits: NASA</p>
Looking for Signs Life on Mars
Scientists have created a tiny chemistry lab for a rover that will drill beneath the Martian surface looking for signs of past or present life.

Massive Black Hole Devours a Star
Scientist create new models of Tidal Disruption Events - rare, but extremely forceful events taking place in the center of galaxies.
Dark Matter Limit Established
Experimental results from the XENON1T dark matter detector limit the effective size of dark matter particles to 4.1X10-47 square centimeters.
Water is not the same as water
Researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms of water to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities.

Science Facts

Fission and Fusion

by Richard M. J. Renneboog and

: Image Courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratory In the nuclear fission process, a heavy atomic nucleus spontaneously splits apart, releasing energy and an energetic particle, and forms two smaller atomic nuclei. While this is a normal, natural process, it is in actuality an extremely rare process. Vastly more common is the opposite process of 'fusion', in which two very light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier atomic nucleus. Every star in the universe works on this principle.

In the nuclear fusion process, the product formed is a helium nucleus consisting of two protons and two neutrons. Ironically, this is the same particle emitted by many radioactive materials when they decay. To form the helium nucleus through fusion requires the joining of two deuterium nuclei. Deuterium is an isotopic form of hydrogen in which each nucleus contains both a proton and a neutron rather than just the one proton of the normal hydrogen nucleus. A single helium nucleus represents a large energy difference relative to two separate deuterium nuclei, and as one might expect, a large amount of energy is released when nuclear fusion occurs. But there is also a very large energy barrier to be overcome in order to bring the deuterium nuclei together and make them fuse. Think of it as a switch that you have to hit with a very heavy hammer in order to get the lights to come one. In this case, the 'hammer' is an atomic bomb!

To trigger the nuclear fusion reaction that is the heart of the 'hydrogen bomb' requires the deuterium mass to be impacted by an explosive force equivalent to that of a conventional atomic bomb based on nuclear fission. The result is catastrophic.

What Is An Atom?

Atoms are the extremely small particles of which we, and everything around us, are made. A single element, such as oxygen, is made up of similar atoms. Different elements, such as oxygen, carbon, and ...
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Get the Point?

The discus and javelin first appeared in ancient game competitions in 708 B.C. Javelin events included both target throwing and distance throwing using a sling. By 1780, the javelin was adopted as an ...
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NEAR animation of Eros
The Minor Planets

Asteroids are rocky fragments left over from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Most of these fragments of ancient space rubble - sometimes referred to by scientists as min ...
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Science Quote

'Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature, it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves.'

Werner Heisenberg

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