Scientists at Sandia National Laboratory generated temperatures of greater than 2 billion degrees Kelvin, hotter than the interior of the sun. To do it, they fired up their Z Machine accelerator, seen here in operation, to produce incredibly hot plasmas. From the Sandia news release:
The unexpectedly hot output, if its cause were understood and harnessed, could eventually mean that smaller, less costly nuclear fusion plants would produce the same amount of energy as larger plants.
The phenomena also may explain how astrophysical entities like solar flares maintain their extreme temperatures.
The very high radiation output also creates new experimental environments to help validate computer codes responsible for maintaining a reliable nuclear weapons stockpile safely and securely — the principal mission of the Z facility.
“At first, we were disbelieving,” says Sandia project lead Chris Deeney. “We repeated the experiment many times to make sure we had a true result and not an ‘Ooops’!”