Feeds

Plasma boffins' POWERFUL wind now a key clue to fiery Sun

Astrophysical turbulence experienced in lab hotbox

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Boffins have attempted to recreate astrophysical turbulence in the laboratory, so they can study the force that forms stars, carries heat across galaxies and troubles the edge of the Earth's magnetosphere.

Using the Large Plasma Device at UCLA, physicists took high resolution images of turbulent plasma in the chamber and were able to test out current theories of what happens when plasma goes wild. They found that the models held good for the scenarios they tested.

Space turbulence is a force that regulates the formation of the stars throughout the galaxy and determines the radiation emitted from the super massive black hole at the center of our galaxy. It also makes the Sun's corona - the fiery haze that surrounds the Sun - up to 1,000 times hotter than the Sun's surface, reaching temperatures of a million degrees Celsius.

A solar prominence, credit NASA

A solar prominence erupts into the Sun's corona. Photo by NASA

Closer to Earth, turbulence caused by violent emissions of charged particles from the Sun creates solar-powered winds that disrupt satellite signals and affect weather on the planet.

The scientists wanted to test out if the modern theory of astrophysical turbulence held good in experiments. According to current theory, turbulent motions in space and astrophysical systems are governed by Alfven waves, which are traveling disturbances of the plasma and magnetic field. The scientists wanted to test what happens in nonlinear interactions between Alfven waves traveling up and down the magnetic field — such as two magnetic waves colliding to create a third wave. The resulting turbulence confirmed what researchers expected about plasma behaviour.

It is almost impossible to measure the effects of astrophysical plasma in space itself - the paper explains that only lab experiments can achieve the controlled conditions and allow scientists to take the high-resolution images necessary.

Toward Astrophysical Turbulence in the Laboratory is published in Physical Review Letters, the journal of the American Physical Society. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.