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Research Highlights

Published: Fri, 02/23/2018 - 11:00am

Jupiter is large enough to fit 1,300 Earths inside, and still have room. But like all planets, Jupiter was once nothing more than a cosmic dust bunny.

A team of physicists at JILA and the University of Arizona, led by JILA Senior Research Associate Jake Simon, are studying how cosmic pebbles­­—­starting only a millimeter in size—can lead to the formation of planetesimals, the football-field-to-Delaware-sized primordial asteroids whose development defined our solar system’s architecture.

It all starts in the cosmic dust, which is composed of tiny, micron-sized particles, surrounding freshly collapsed stars. Before planets can form, planetesimals must form; and before planetesimals can form, the cosmic dust must cluster. But like all dust bunnies, cosmic dust only clusters when stirred. The technical term for this stirring is turbulence.

There are many possible sources of initial turbulence. One source, known as streaming instability, is the presence of small pebbles within the cosmic dust. ­­

“So what’s going on here is the small solids, which you might think of as the pebbles within the disk, those feel aerodynamic forces, sort-of headwind forces,...

Published: Feb 07, 2008

The Perkins group is helping to develop DNA as a force standard for the nano world. Polymers...

Published: Feb 02, 2008

In Ray Bradbury’s book Something Wicked This Way Comes, people get older or younger...

Published: Jan 10, 2008

A solid understanding of the structure and behavior of atoms is important for understanding...

Published: Oct 01, 2007

In JILA Fellow Dick McCray’s view, the way students learn astronomy is nearly the...

Published: Oct 01, 2007

Fellows Ralph Jimenez and Henry Kapteyn and their groups recently helped develop optical...

Published: Oct 01, 2007

In Fellow Steve Cundiff’s lab, echoes of light are illuminating the quantum world. Former...

Published: Sep 30, 2007

X-rays are notorious for damaging molecules, including those in our bodies. High in the upper...

Published: Jun 15, 2007

In the quantum world inside Fellow Eric Cornell’s lab, communication occurs across a two-...

Published: May 01, 2007

It’s easy to make X-rays. Physicians and dentists make them routinely in their offices...

Published: Apr 27, 2007

Two egg-shaped necklaces of magnificent stars orbit the enormous black hole known as...

Published: Apr 16, 2007

There’s a new aspect to research on gamma-ray bursts: their use to discern features of...

Published: Apr 12, 2007

A second wave has appeared on the horizon of ultracold atom research. Known as the p-wave, it...

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