University of Oxford mimics a supernova

It could be centuries (if ever) before humans can observe the behavior of a supernova first-hand, but scientists at the University of Oxford may have delivered the next best thing. They've recently simulated an exploding star by zapping an extremely thin carbon rod with a powerful laser; the resulting extra-hot blast (1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit) ripped through a chamber much like the real thing, as you can see pictured here. To add an extra dose of realism, the team added a plastic grid that replicated interference from dust and gases.

The ensuing swirls supported theories behind not just the behavior of supernovas, but the universe at large; turbulence in the test chamber amplified magnetic fields, suggesting that the earliest magnetism was created through similar chaos. Whether or not there's an opportunity to prove this in the future, it's clear that researchers are at least on the right track.

[Image credit: University of Oxford]