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Page 1 of 35 (206 total stories) [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | > | >> ]   

What is The Highest Known Temperature? Score: More about Printer Friendly Send to a Friend Save as PDF

Owen Hemptonon


Photo by: Shutterstock


“What is the highest known temperature?”

Asked by: Taylor Sullivan


Every atom in the universe likes heat. They like heat so much that atoms and subatomic particles vibrate and move around when they’re hot. The hotter they are, the faster they move, and the colder they are, the slower they move. In fact, at absolute zero (0 Kelvin, −273°C, or −460°F), all movements from the atoms stop completely. You can’t get colder than that. It’s like trying to go south from the South Pole, or north from the North Pole; not only won’t it happen, it can’t.

The hottest thing that we know of (and have seen) is actually a lot closer than you might think. It’s right here on Earth at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). When they smash gold particles together, for a split second the temperature reaches 7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit! That’s hotter than a supernova explosion.

But Can We Go Hotter?

Theoretically, yes. The first contender for the hottest temperature is the Planck Temperature, which equals 100 million million million million million degrees, or 1032 K. You just can’t put this kind of temperature into perspective. There’s simply no way to wrap your head around this number. Saying that 1032 K is hot is like saying that the universe takes up some space. (The BBC has a good infographic on the hot and cold extremes, but it’s too large for our site)

This is as hot as you can get in normal physics, because once it gets any hotter, conventional physics just doesn’t work. Weird things happen. Gravitational force becomes as strong as the three other natural forces (electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces), and they merge together into one unified force. Understanding how this happens is referred to as the “theory of everything”, the holy grail of modern theoretical physics.

Another contestant for the hottest temperature in the universe comes courtesy of string theorists, who say that it is 1030 K, a little cooler than the contestant above. String theorists believe that the most basic things in the universe aren’t particles, but vibrating strings. They have reason to believe that the maximum temperature achievable is just a bit cooler that the Planck temperature.

You may have heard of the existence temperatures lower than absolute zero; however, negative temperatures are not colder than absolute zero. In fact, negative Kelvin temperatures are hotter than infinite temperatures, and can only happen in systems that have an energy ceiling, and usually only discrete (quantised) systems have that. For more information, check out our article, “Is Absolute Zero Absolute?“

The reason they define the temperatures in this way is because of the mathematical niceness in the formulation of statistical thermodynamics. Also, we have had access to negative temperatures since very long ago, just that we have never reached temperatures so hot.

From Quarks to Quasars

Posted by Southern on Friday, October 16, 2015 @ 23:12:45 EDT (1522 reads)

What Is the Highest Possible Temperature? Score: More about Printer Friendly Send to a Friend Save as PDF

As a black hole loses mass and surface area, it begins to radiate energy more rapidly, thereby heating up.

Temperature is a function of the movement of particles and is measured in a variety of scales including fahrenheit and celsius.

Michael Anissimov

There is no agreed-upon value, among physicists, for a maximum possible temperature. Under the current best-guess of a complete theory of physics, it is the Planck temperature, or 1.41679 x 1032 Kelvins. This translates to about 2.538 x 1032° Fahrenheit. Since the current theories of physics are incomplete, however, it is possible that it could be hotter.

The answer that a typical physicist gives to this question will depend on her implicit opinion of the completeness of the current set of physical theories. Temperature is a function of the motion of particles, so if nothing can move faster than the speed of light, then the maximum may be defined as a gas whose atomic constituents are each moving at the speed of light. The problem is that attaining the speed of light in this universe is impossible; light speed is a quantity that may only be approached asymptotically. The more energy that is put into a particle, the closer it gets to moving at light speed, though it never fully reaches it.

At least one scientist has proposed defining the maximum possible temperature as what someone would get if she took all the energy in the universe and put it into accelerating the lightest possible particle she could find as closely as possible to the speed of light. If this is true, then discoveries about elementary particles and the size/density of the universe could be relevant to discovering the correct answer to the question. If the universe is infinite, there may be no formally defined limit.

Even though infinite temperature may be possible, it might be impossible to observe, making it irrelevant. Under Einstein's theory of relativity, an object accelerated close to the speed of light gains a tremendous amount of mass. That is why no amount of energy can suffice to accelerate any object, even an elementary particle, to the speed of light — it becomes infinitely massive at the limit. If a particle is accelerated to a certain velocity near that of light, it gains enough mass to collapse into a black hole, making it impossible for observers to make statements about its velocity.

The Planck temperature is reached in this universe under at least two separate conditions, according to some theories. The first occurred only once, 1 Planck time (10-43 seconds) after the Big Bang. At this time, the universe existed in an almost perfectly ordered state, with near-zero entropy. It may have even been a singularity, a physical object that can be described by only three quantities: mass, angular momentum, and electric charge. The Second Law of Thermodynamics, however, insists that the entropy (disorderliness) of a closed system must always increase. This means that the early universe had only one direction to go — that of higher entropy — and underwent a near-instantaneous breakdown.

The second set of conditions capable of producing the Planck temperature are those occurring at the final moments of a black hole's life. Black holes evaporate slowly due to quantum tunneling by matter adjacent to the black hole's surface. This effect is so slight that a typical black hole would take 1060 years to radiate away all its mass, but smaller black holes, like those with the mass of a small mountain, may take only 1010 years to evaporate. As a black hole loses mass and surface area, it begins to radiate energy more rapidly, thereby heating up, and at the final instant of its existence, radiates away energy so quickly that it momentarily achieves the Planck temperature.

Wise Geek

Posted by Southern on Friday, October 16, 2015 @ 22:54:10 EDT (1346 reads)

Could We Be Wrong About The Speed Of Light? Score: More about Printer Friendly Send to a Friend Save as PDF Read More...

Stephen Luntz

Supernova 1987a

Photo credit:  NASA. Supernova 1987a gave astronomers an opportunity to study stellar explosions to an unmatched extent, and the findings continue to challenge physics theorems

A challenge has been thrown down to the consistency of the speed of light, based on an anomaly from the most closely observed supernovae of all time.

In 1987 astronomers witnessed the only supernova in 400 years close enough to Earth to see with the naked eye. The first hint of the event came not from telescopes, but neutrino detectors.

Neutrinos and photons were assumed to have crossed space between the Large Magellanic Cloud and us at the speed of light. However, light does not always travel at 3x108 m/s. Just as glass or water will slow light down, the dense core of a supernova is expected to impede photons so that neutrinos will reach us first.

Models of supernovae suggest the delay should be about three hours. However, rather than witnessing a single burst of neutrinos three hours before the first light was observed, detectors picked up two bursts, one 7.7 hours earlier, and the other 4.7 hours. Some models of supernovae predict two collapses, and thus two rounds of neutrinos, but the timing is puzzling since it is the first round that should beat the light by three hours.

Posted by Southern on Saturday, March 07, 2015 @ 19:09:48 EST (2091 reads)

Electricity Fight Score: More about Printer Friendly Send to a Friend Save as PDF

Two men + two Tesla coils + special suits = ELECTRICITY FIGHT!

Posted by Southern on Friday, May 23, 2014 @ 23:33:03 EDT (1532 reads)

Supermassive breakthrough Score: More about Printer Friendly Send to a Friend Save as PDF Read More...

Scientists now know how fast a black hole spins

Russia Today/

spin rate


For the first time ever, scientists have been able to measure the precise spin rate of a 'supermassive black hole'. The findings will provide some clue as to how some of the most mysterious objects in our universe began to form.

The black hole is located in the NGC 1365 galaxy, located 56 million light years away from us, and  two million times the mass of the Sun.

By its very nature, a black hole is an object so dense that its gravity is strong enough to absorb the space around it. But in the process, as the incoming objects create friction and heat up, it emits x-rays.

It is these x-rays that astronomers measured, using the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), launched by NASA last year, and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton.

Posted by Southern on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 @ 15:20:07 EST (1619 reads)

NASA Discovers New Radiation Belt Around Earth Score: More about Printer Friendly Send to a Friend Save as PDF Read More...

Charles Q. Choi,

NASA discovers extra radiation ring around Earth by Van Allen Probes.

CREDIT: NASA/Van Allen Probes/Goddard Space Flight Center

Two giant swaths of radiation, known as the Van Allen Belts, surrounding Earth were discovered in 1958. In 2012, observations from the Van Allen Probes showed that a third belt can sometimes appear. The radiation is shown here in yellow, with green representing the spaces between the belts.

A ring of radiation previously unknown to science fleetingly surrounded Earth last year before being virtually annihilated by a powerful interplanetary shock wave, scientists say.

NASA's twin Van Allen space probes, which are studying the Earth's radiation belts, made the cosmic find. The surprising discovery — a new, albeit temporary, radiation belt around Earth — reveals how much remains unknown about outer space, even those regions closest to the planet, researchers added.

After humanity began exploring space, the first major find made there were the Van Allen radiation belts, zones of magnetically trapped, highly energetic charged particles first discovered in 1958.

"They were something we thought we mostly understood by now, the first discovery of the Space Age," said lead study author Daniel Baker, a space scientist at the University of Colorado.

These belts were believed to consist of two rings: an inner zone made up of both high-energy electrons and very energetic positive ions that remains stable in intensity over the course of years to decades; and an outer zone comprised mostly of high-energy electrons whose intensity swings over the course of hours to days depending primarily on the influence from the solar wind, the flood of radiation streaming from the sun. [How NASA's Twin Radiation Probes Work (Infographic)]

The discovery of a temporary new radiation belt now has scientists reviewing the Van Allen radiation belt models to understand how it occurred.

Radiation rings around Earth

Posted by Southern on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 @ 13:52:31 EST (1418 reads)

Page 1 of 35 (206 total stories) [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | > | >> ]   


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