Feb 17, 2010 1:06 PM by Greg Boyce
Two University of Colorado at Boulder physicists are part of a team working with the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York that have created the hottest temperature ever measured in the universe. That's 7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit.
The team used Brookhaven's giant atom smasher, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider to ram charged gold particles into each other billions of times, creating a "quark-gluon plasma" with a temperature hotter than anything known in the universe, even supernova explosions. The experiment is recreating the conditions of the universe a few microseconds after the Big Bang.
CU-Boulder physics department Professors Jamie Nagle and Edward Kinney are collaborators on the Pioneering High Energy Nuclear Interaction experiment. It includes three large magnets that produce high magnetic fields to bend charged particle.
The new experiments produced a temperature 250,000 times hotter than the sun's interior. The collisions created minuscule bubbles heated to temperatures 40 times hotter than the interior of a supernova. By studying the subatomic particles created, researchers hope to gain insight into what occurred in the first microseconds after the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago, said Kinney.