June 28, 2012
Record Setting 7.2 Trillion Degrees Fahrenheit In New York
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Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com
As record-setting heat and wildfires continue to consume Colorado, one team of scientists has created a temperature so hot the Sun would melt.
Scientists working with a giant atom smasher at New York's Brookhaven National Laboratory have created the hottest temperature ever seen on Earth, at 7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit.
The excruciatingly hot temperature has been verified by the Guinness Book of Records, and confirmed as the hottest temperature ever.
To put the temperature into even more perspective, the heat the scientists created is 250,000 times warmer than the center of the Sun.
The last time the universe was able to see this temperature was a split second after the Big Bang, about 14 billion years ago.
The ultra-hot explosion that created the fiery temperature only lasted for less than a billionth of a second.
Using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), scientists collided gold ions head-on traveling at nearly the speed of light. The beams were traveling in opposite directions around the particle accelerators 2.4-mile tunnel.
The collision was so intense that neutrons and protons inside the gold nuclei melted, releasing elementary particles.
The scientists created the experience to help shed some new light on how the universe was created in a massive explosion back in at the onset of the Big Bang.
At 7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit, ordinary matter breaks down into a sub-atomic soup that existed microseconds after the birth of the universe.
Some may be wondering how exactly scientists were able to measure the temperature of something that would melt a thermometer instantaneously. The team said they measured the hot matter by looking at the color of light emitted from it.
The researchers will be spending years studying the results of the explosions in search of tiny irregularities that explain why matter clumps up together out of the sub-atomic soup.
At these high temperatures, protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom melt, turning into a liquid made up of smaller particles known as quarks and gluons.
Particle physicists used to believe that the quark-gluon plasma would exist as a gas, but the new study shows it behaves more like a liquid.
"Other physicists have now observed quite similar liquid behavior in trapped atom samples at temperatures near absolute zero, ten million trillion times colder than the quark-gluon plasma we create at RHIC," Steven Vigdor, the head of Brookhaven's nuclear and particle physics program, said in a press release.
"This is just one among many unexpected connections we've found between RHIC physics and other scientific forefronts. The unity of physics is a beautiful thing!"
Having the glory of knowing they created the hottest temperature on Earth may not last very much longer for the U.S. scientists, because physicists using the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland plan to break the record later on this year.