Fusion reactions release energyEnergy from the nuclear fusion reactions which power stars is turned into electromagnetic radiation (a form of light) in the heart of the Sun. There is no way to directly see this light, and previously we could only indirectly work out how it moves through the Sun, deep under the surface. By recreating the conditions inside the Sun in a laboratory, we can directly find out how the radiation carries the energy to the surface.

This isn’t the only stellar application of big lasers; the US National Ignition Facility is using lasers to go a step further and recreate the way that stars make energy through fusion reactions. Fusion promises to be an abundant, clean, and green source of energy. The goal is to produce more energy than the lasers use. It’s a huge challenge, but recent promising results from this experiment mean that there is hope that star power on Earth will become a reality.

Image right: Fusion reactions release energy

Download the interactive "Set the controls  for the heart of the Sun" ebook

It contains much more information about our exhibit, photos of the laser systems, and videos!

Click here to download

Set the controls for the heart of the Sun at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2014








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Above: the event took place in July 2014 and attracted over 15,000 visitors Above: Aboy uses a laser to pop a balloon


Above: A scientist explains the fourth state of matter; plasma Above: Enthusiastic members of the team