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X-rays Brighter than a Million Suns Glow in Lab
Mar 28, 2014

Scientists have for the first time ever created the brightest light ever imagined in the entire universe. X-rays brighter than a million suns were created which exposed the biochemical structure of a 50 million-year-old fossil plant to stunning visual effect when they were bombarded on it. The team of palaeontologists, geochemists and physicists investigated the chemistry of exceptionally preserved fossil leaves from the Eocene-aged Green River Formation of the western United States by bombarding the fossils with X-rays produced by synchrotron particle accelerators.

Researchers from Britain's University of Manchester and Diamond Light Source combined the unique capabilities of two synchrotron facilities to produce detailed images of where the various elements of the periodic table were located within both living and fossil leaves.

The work shows that the distribution of copper, zinc and nickel in the fossil leaves was almost identical to that in modern leaves. Each element was concentrated in distinct biological structures such as the veins and the edges of the leaves and the way these trace elements and sulphur were attached to other elements was very similar to that seen in modern leaves and plant matter in soils.

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