Goal: Map hydrogen into the quantum degenerate and blurred regime relevant to understanding the most abundant atom of the Universe.
CMAP, an NSF-designated Physics Frontiers Center, is one of the foundation’s first major initiatives in the field of high-energy-density sciences. We bring together researchers at Rochester, MIT, Princeton, the Universities of California at Berkeley and Davis, the University of Buffalo, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Our physicists, astrophysicists, and planetary scientists are working to understand the physics and astrophysical implications of matter under pressures so high that the structure of individual atoms is disrupted.
The impetus for the project includes two recent movements in science:
- A paradigm shift in how we think about extreme states of matter. Theoretical and experimental results suggest that materials subjected to atomic scale pressure can become increasingly more complicated, with extraordinary properties.
- The discovery of thousands of planets, some of which may be platforms for life, outside our solar system. To understand the nature of these massive bodies, we need to understand their deep interior states, which are under the crushing forces of gravity.
CMAP is poised to lead discoveries at the convergence of these two movements in science by combining our members’ institutional facilities and resources—including powerful lasers, pulsed-power, and x-ray beam technology—with fundamental research in four main areas.
Atomic pressure is the only fundamental unit of the atom that remains unexplored. The precision of astronomical data on exoplanet masses and radii has reached the point of discriminating between different equations of state and transport models, but no experimental benchmarks and little intuition exist at the extreme pressure regimes of many exoplanets’ interiors. Through theoretical, observational, computational and experimental research, CMAP focuses on four Major Activity (MA) areas.
Goal: Study matter (Z>2) at energy densities high enough to alter atomic structure, to 100 TPa, in order to advance theory for dense plasmas, and the intrinsic atomic and molecular states.
Goal: To discover and document an understanding for transport properties in dense matter at atomic-scale pressure, where highly degenerate conditions, long-range correlations, the blurring of atomic/molecular orbitals, and thermal or quantum fluctuations, independently or together, challenge plasma, condensed matter, and astrophysical approximations. MA3, in concert with MA1 and 2, which focus on thermodynamic and structural behavior of such matter, will allow a connection to macroscopic processes crucial to MA4.
Goal: Using the output from MA1-MA3 as inputs: (1) Produce state of the art “next generation” planetary models across all planetary types which will dramatically differ from 20th century simple layered structures to include dynamical mixing. (2) Supply the emerging principles and “next generation” models to the community for use in predicting and interpreting direct observables of solar system and exoplanet data, including their formation, dynamical evolution, and atmosphere formation. (3) Constrain the mechanism, time scale, and location of magnetic field origin in planets much more accurately than ever before. (4) Identify the diverse implications of new opacity measurements for stars across the H-R diagram and their exoplanet systems for stellar abundance anomalies, convection zone loci, and stellar abundance-planet formation mechanism correlations. (5) Model exoplanet atmosphere survival and stellar- induced atmospheric loss for “next generation” planet models, including also the coupled influence of radiative transfer, stellar and planetary magnetic fields, and stellar winds.
Funding for our research is provided by the Center for Matter at Atomic Pressures (CMAP), a National Science Foundation (NSF) Physics Frontiers Center, under Award PHY-2020249. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.