New Super X-Ray to Study Earth's Core

Experiments could shed light on planet's inner workings
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2011 2:42 PM CST

(Newser) – The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility has inaugurated a new X-ray beam that could tell us much about Earth’s most mysterious place: its core. The recently revamped ESRF uses a huge particle accelerator to create various intense X-Ray beams, which can give scientists an atom-level look at their subjects. The new beam, dubbed ID24, will allow scientists to subject metals to pressures and temperatures found at the center of the Earth, and observe what happens, Popular Science reports.

ID24 won’t start experiments until spring, but when it does it’ll be capable of taking 1 million measurements per second, which mean scientists will get a very precise view of what happens when, say, iron is heated to 10,000 degrees. Those observations in turn could teach them much about how metal functions at extreme depths, shedding light on, among other things, the dynamo that generates the Earth’s magnetic field.

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