Gamma-ray Bursts in the Afterglow Era, ed
- P. Duggan, B. McBreen, L Hanlon
- (Springer Verlag),
The intense radiation from a gamma-ray burst (GRB) is shown to be capable of melting stony material at distances up to 300 light years which subsequently cool to form chondrules. These conditions were created in the laboratory for the first time when millimeter sized pellets were placed in a vacuum chamber in the white synchrotron beam at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The pellets were rapidly heated in the Xray and gamma-ray furnace to above 1400 C melted and cooled. This process heats from the inside unlike normal furnaces. The melted spherical samples were examined with a range of techniques and found to have microstructural properties similar to the chondrules that come from meteorites. This experiment demonstrates that GRBs can melt precursor material to form chondrules that may subsequently influence the formation of planets. This work extends the field of laboratory astrophysics to include high power synchrotron sources.