Science, Maths & Technology

X-rays and planet formation

Updated Thursday 27th November 2008

Discover how a powerful x-ray could lead to a better understanding of planetary formation

There is currently no satisfactory explanation of how planets form but it seems that conditions of extremely high temperatures and concentrations of matter are required. Recent experiments have produced matter at extreme conditions similar to those found in space when planets form.

In a recent experiment, detailed in Science, researchers investigated the changes in lithium-hydride, a material which is flammable in air and explodes when it comes into contact with water. They used a high-powered laser to deliver a very large amount of power for a very short time, creating huge sparks, or shocks, of energy within the target material.

The lithium-hydride was monitored using a powerful x-ray probe to detect the different stages that materials undergo during very rapid changes. It was found that the shock-wave produced extreme temperatures and pressures, up to 25000k and a compression factor of 3. This ability to monitor such fast, extreme conditions will enable further laboratory testing of planetary formation and modelling of planetary composition.

Find out more

Episode 3: HIV, superstitions...

'Ultrafast X-ray Thomson Scattering of Shock-Compressed Matter'
by Andrea L Kritcher, Paul Neumayer, John Castor, et al
in Science 322 pp69

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Physics and Light - International Year of Light Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Wenani | Dreamstime.com article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Physics and Light - International Year of Light

Free learning resources in physics, relating to light, as part of The Open University's International Year of Light celebrations.

Article
Challenge: Transmit and Receive a Signal Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Open2 article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Challenge: Transmit and Receive a Signal

The science behind transmitting and receiving radio signals, part of the BBC/OU's programme website for Rough Science 2

Article
article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Clock Glossary

Glossary of terms relating to clocks and sundials, part of the BBC/OU's programme website for Rough Science 2

Article
Kathy's Carriacou diary: Music Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Kathy's Carriacou diary: Music

Kathy Sykes's Science of Celebration diary, from the BBC/OU series Rough Science 2

Article
Renewable energy Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: OU article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Renewable energy

What exactly is energy - where does it come from, and how do we store and release it?

Article
Is time the same for everyone? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Is time the same for everyone?

We all start off thinking there is just the one time – the same for everyone. Professor Russell Stannard illustrates how relativity theory shows this not to be the case.

Article
DIY Science: Catapult Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Open2 team activity icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

DIY Science: Catapult

Discover the history of the mangonel - and make a desktop version to protect your lunch!

Activity
How Do Batteries Work? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: OU article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

How Do Batteries Work?

An article about how batteries work, part of the BBC/OU's programme website for Rough Science 1

Article
Challenge: Make an Underwater Torch Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Challenge: Make an Underwater Torch

The science behind making a torch that will work underwater, part of the BBC/OU's programme website for Rough Science 2

Article