Scientists at the Vulcan laser lab in the United Kingdom have used three high powered light beams "focused on a carbon rod target not much thicker than a strand of hair" to create a supernova right here on Earth—a tiny supernova, but a supernova nonetheless.
The researchers conducted the experiment to understand the shape of Cassiopeia A—a supernova remnant in the constellation Cassiopeia located 11,000 light-years away from us and measuring about 10 light-years across. Their paper has been published in Nature Physics.
According to professor Gianluca Gregori at the Oxford University's Department of Physics—the main author of the paper—the experiment was possible because the physical processes can be "scaled from one to the other in the same way that waves in a bucket are comparable to waves in the ocean. So our experiments can complement observations of events such as the Cassiopeia A supernova explosion."