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Researchers have unveiled the ultimate sci-fi laser weapon.

DE-STAR, or Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation, uses a massive array of laser beams to intercept and deflect asteroids - and could also be used as a photon drive for insterstellar travel.

Researchers have revealed the system working in the lab - albeit on a smaller scale.

It is the brainchild of UC Santa Barbara physicist Philip Lubin and Gary B. Hughes, a researcher and professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. 

To simulate a laser's ability to deflect an asteroid, Travis Brashears led a group of students in tests that simulate space conditions. 

Using basalt, the composition of which is similar to known asteroids, they directed a laser onto the basalt target until it glowed white hot, a process called laser ablation, which erodes material from the sample. 

This changes the object's mass and produces a 'rocket engine' using the asteroid itself as the propellant.

In space, this would be powerful enough to alter its course.

To read more and view the video, click here.