Feeds

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

Astrophysical turbulence experienced in lab hotbox

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.