It is the first free-electron laser (undulating magnets are shown) to produce pulses of hard X-rays, light whose wavelength is close to the width of an atom.
Like the hard X-ray laser, the phonon laser--which doesn't produce electromagnetic waves at all--was a long time coming.
Since 2004, the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) aboard Swift has been mapping the sky using hard X-rays.
Building up its exposure year after year, the Swift BAT Hard X-ray Survey is the largest, most sensitive and complete census of the sky at these energies," said Neil Gehrels, Swift's principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Neupert had proposed that as electrons accelerate to high energies, emitting radio waves and colliding with atoms to create the hard X-rays, they also heat the ionized gas inside neighboring magnetic loops.
While some flares do indeed exhibit an extended cascade of soft X-rays on the heels of the intense, hard X-ray burst, X-ray component.
Had the sun flared like II Pegasi, these hard X-rays
would have overwhelmed the Earth's protective atmosphere, leading to significant climate change and mass extinction.
While the original mode yielded mainly hard X-rays
, the Sandia scientists recently modified the device to work by a second process, known as "gas puff z-pinch," which generates soft X-rays.
This will open the door to additional applications of CCD-based semiconductor detectors of hard x-rays
in medical diagnostics and industrial nondestructive testing imaging applications as well," Cox said.
The research used a detector that observes both hard X-rays
and gamma rays, which Fishman manages in collaboration with William G.
The hard X-rays found in these discoveries are supposed to come ultimately from processes of nuclear fusion and nuclear decay that between them make the heavier chemical elements.
However, the spectrum of hard X-rays found by the observers is, as Tanaka said, "unusual for any kind of X-ray source.