Z machine helps scientists understand the sun’s heart
Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 10:08am
Working at temperatures matching the interior of the sun, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine have been able to determine experimentally iron’s role in inhibiting energy transmission from the center of the sun to near the edge of its radiative band.
Sandia’s Z machine creates the temperature of the sun’s interior —about 2.1 million degrees —in a target about the size of a grain of sand. From that small sample, Sandia researchers can do what theorists cannot: hold in a hand tangible evidence for the way iron atoms behave inside stars.
About the photo: Physicist Jim Bailey of Sandia National Laboratories observes a wire array that will heat foam to roughly 4 million degrees until it emits a burst of X-rays that heats a foil target to the interior conditions of the sun.