Scientists from Chicago, the University of Oxford and the University of Rochester have collaborated to create conditions similar to hot gas in giant galaxy clusters.

The scientists focused 196 lasers on one small target to create white-hot plasma with intense magnetic fields. It exists for a few billionths of a second.

The authors of the work stated that galaxies almost never form separately. Usually tens or thousands of such objects are attracted to each other by gravity, resulting in huge clusters – these are the largest objects in the universe.

Scientists already know that hydrogen gas in galaxy clusters is very hot, about the same temperature as the center of the sun. Such a gas is a plasma consisting of protons and electrons.

But the question remains why the gas is so hot. According to the usual laws of physics, it should have cooled down for as long as the universe has existed, but this did not happen.

Researchers want to recreate similar conditions in the lab to study them. To do this, they used the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which is located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The design is able to create the necessary extreme conditions, however, for a fraction of a second.

Scientists used 196 lasers and created a hot plasma with intense magnetic fields. This was enough for the researchers to figure out that instead of a uniform temperature, there were hot and cold spots in the plasma.

This is consistent with one of the theories previously proposed to explain how heat is stored inside galaxy clusters. Usually, heat is easily distributed when electrons collide with each other. But the entangled magnetic fields within the plasma can act on the electrons, causing them to spiral along the direction of the magnetic fields, which can prevent them from evenly distributing and dissipating energy.

During the experiment, the authors found that the energy conductivity was reduced by more than 100 times.