So far, we don’t have a lot of experience with extreme magnetic fields. We only created magnetic fields of little over 1 kilotesla. But maybe, we could create magnetic fields similar to ones around black holes or neutron stars.
The majority of magnetic fields which can be found on Earth – even the artificial ones – aren’t that strong. The stronger ones can be found, for example, in MRIs in hospitals. Usually, these create magnetic fields with a strength of around 1 tesla which corresponds to roughly 10,000 gausses. And the geomagnetic field around Earth only produces around 0.3 to 0.5 gauss.
Some experimental devices for MRI generate a magnetic field of roughly 10.5 teslas or 105,000 guasses. The team led by Shojiro Takeyama from Tokyo University created an electromagnet in 2018 with a power of 1,200 teslas. But we haven’t produced anything better yet.
Kilotesla fields pale in comparison to megatesla fields that surround neutron stars and black holes out there in the Universe. And we haven’t seen them anywhere else than out in the Universe. At least for now as Masakatsu Murakami from Osaka University and his colleagues are convinced that these extreme, almost unimaginable magnetic fields could be created here on Earth. They think intense laser beams that hit microtubes should be enough.
Their computer models and simulations show that a megatesla magnetic field gets created when ultrapowerful laser pulses fly into the microtubes – hollow objects with a diameter of just a few microns. These laser pulses should transmit gigantic amounts of energy to the electrons of the atoms in the walls of the microtubes. The electrons then “jump” into the space inside the microtubes and cause the microtubes to implode. The interaction between the high-energy electrons with the vacuum created by the implosion creates an electric current which will then generate the extreme magnetic field.
What we need to remember is that such a megatesla magnetic field won’t last for only. Just for about 10 nanoseconds. But even that a long time to perform for some interesting experiments. During the supercomputer simulations performed by Murakami’s team, it was proven that creating such magnetic fields is possible with current technologies. All we need is a laser system with an output of 10-100 petawatts which can create laser pulses with an energy of 0.1 to 1 kilojoule.
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