Friday, May 27, 2016

Low-mass particles that make high-mass stars go boom

Symmetry illustration.

Supernova research really took off in the 1980s with growing computer power and the realization that a full understanding of core collapse would need to incorporate a lot of complicated physics.

“Core-collapse supernovae involve a huge variety of effects involving all four fundamental forces,” says Joshua Dolence of the US Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory. “The predicted outcome of collapse—even the most basic question of ‘Does this star explode?’—can depend on how these effects are incorporated into simulations." (Full story)

Using supercomputers to probe the early Universe

WMAP satellite gathering data to understand
the Big Bang, NASA image.

Physicists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, however, are taking a different approach: they are using computers. In collaboration with colleagues at University of California San Diego, the Los Alamos researchers developed a computer code, called BURST, that can simulate a slice in the life of our young cosmos.

While BURST is not the first computer code to simulate conditions during the first few minutes of cosmological evolution, it can achieve better precision by a few orders of magnitude compared to its predecessors. (Full story)

The Hiroshima mushroom cloud that wasn’t

“This is not a mushroom cloud,” said Richard L. Garwin, a noted bomb designer and longtime adviser to Washington on nuclear arms.

Kevin Roark, a spokesman at the Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico, which made the Hiroshima bomb, known as Little Boy, said the image showed “a smoke plume from the fires that followed.”

Military experts say the cloud and its dark shadow can be seen as a kind of sundial that suggests when an American plane took the photograph. (Full story)

Los Angeles could be gigawatts short this summer

Infrared image of Aliso Canyon storage site leaking
methane last year. NPCA Image.

Relying on gas plants to balance solar and wind generation could have increasingly severe impacts as their penetration grows, according to gas flow modeling by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico. Their December 2015 report in the journal Applied Energy modeled the Transco pipeline system, which moves gas between the Gulf of Mexico and New York City. (Full story)

Los Alamos staff help detect underground nuclear explosions

Catherine Snelson, LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory staff were instrumental in the fifth conventional explosion experiment as part of the NNSA’s Source Physics Experiment (SPE) series.

“The goal of SPE is to understand the generation of S-waves from explosive sources,” said Catherine Snelson, a geophysicist at Los Alamos that led the Laboratory’s team. “The most recent SPE shot was a great success and has led to about three times more data than what we have acquired on previous shots." (Full story)

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