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Bose Novae

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Under certain conditions, atoms in Bose-Einstein Condensates (BEC) - ultra-low temperature 'gasses' of expanded, superimposed atoms - can sometimes become unstable in intense magnetic fields.

The instabilities can lead to nano-scale 'implosions' which have been likened to the processes which occur in Supernovae. Hence the (tongue-in-cheek) name Bose Nova.

The phenomenon was first described in 1996 in experiments with BECs using lithium atoms. See : Stability of Bose condensed atomic Li Phys. Rev. A, 54, 5055.

Various theories have been put forward to explain the phenomenon, but there is as yet no general agreement. The energy available to the individual atoms very near absolute zero appears to be insufficient to cause the 'implosion'.

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