• June 11, 2020, A team of scientists at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)’s Cold Atom Lab (CAL) have observed the “fifth state of matter” in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time.
• It is also known as also known as Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC).
• They believe that through this will help in solving some of the quantum puzzles of quantum universe the kernels of the universe can be solved and its origin can also be traced.
When is the fifth state of matter formed?
• This special state of matter occurs when the atoms of some elements are cooled to absolute zero (0 Kelvin or -273.15 ° C).
• Due to this, all the atoms of that element start working together as a single unit to become one, that is, super atom.
• This is called the fifth state of matter. In any substance, its atoms move at different speeds, but in the fifth state of matter there is only one big atom and waves are raised in it.
What is matter?
• Matter is the “stuff” that makes up the universe — everything that takes up space and has mass is matter. All matter is made up of atoms, which are in turn made up of protons, neutrons and electrons.
• Atoms come together to form molecules, which are the building blocks for all types of matter. Both atoms and molecules are held together by a form of potential energy called chemical energy.
• Unlike kinetic energy, which is the energy of an object in motion, potential energy is the energy stored in an object.
What are different states of matter?
• There are four natural states of matter: Solids, liquids, gases and plasma. The fifth state is the man-made Bose-Einstein condensates.
• In a solid, particles are packed tightly together so they don’t move much. Solids have a definite shape, as well as mass and volume, and do not conform to the shape of the container in which they are placed. Solids also have a high density, meaning that the particles are tightly packed together.
• In a liquid, the particles are more loosely packed than in a solid and are able to flow around each other, giving the liquid an indefinite shape. Therefore, the liquid will conform to the shape of its container. Much like solids, liquids (most of which have a lower density than solids) are incredibly difficult to compress.
• In a gas, the particles have a great deal of space between them and have high kinetic energy. A gas has no definite shape or volume. If unconfined, the particles of a gas will spread out indefinitely; if confined, the gas will expand to fill its container. When a gas is put under pressure by reducing the volume of the container, the space between particles is reduced and the gas is compressed.
• Plasma is not a common state of matter here on Earth, but it may be the most common state of matter in the universe, Stars are essentially superheated balls of plasma. Plasma consists of highly charged particles with extremely high kinetic energy. The noble gases (helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon) are often used to make glowing signs by using electricity to ionize them to the plasma state.
• Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) — the existence of which was predicted by Albert Einstein and Indian mathematician Satyendra Nath Bose almost a century ago — are formed when atoms of certain elements are cooled to near absolute zero (0 Kelvin, minus 273.15 Celsius). At this point, the atoms become a single entity with quantum properties wherein each particle also functions as a wave of matter.
• Scientists believe BECs contain vital clues to mysterious phenomena such as Dark Energy- the unknown energy thought to be behind the Universe’s accelerating expansion. But BEC are extremely fragile. The slight interaction with the external world is enough to warm them past their condensation threshold. This makes them nearly impossible for scientists to study on Earth, where gravity interferes with the magnetic fields required to hold them in place for observation.