Video: Fly Through the World’s Most Powerful X-Ray Laser:
A few millionths of a second is all it takes for electrons to traverse the world’s most powerful X-ray laser, but this new time-lapse video (above) makes the half-mile trip in 37 seconds.
The Linac Coherent Light Source, or LCLS, uses magnets to accelerate pulses of electrons to within 99.9999999 percent of the speed of light. A railroad of other magnets then wiggles the subatomic particles and bleeds off their potent energy as X-ray photons (see video below).
Physicists can harness the resulting X-ray beam as a strobe light to make stop-motion movies of atoms and molecules in motion. The beam is also powerful enough to obliterate samples into hot, dense matter — a phase typically found inside the cores of stars and gigantic planets.
To make the fly-through of equipment that supports such science, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory enlisted the help of photographer Matt Beardsley. He stitched together more than 1,000 still photos to craft the clip.
The underground tour begins at the beam switch yard, which is where LCLS officially begins. The switch yard can direct LCLS’s electron beam, which is fed by a 2-mile-long particle accelerator (not pictured in the video), to other experimental beam lines. After flying through about a dozen doors and walls, the video finishes in the far experimental hall, where three major X-ray experiments are housed.
Beardsley and SLAC also posted other stop-motion videos of the LCLS complex.
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