Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Flares in the universe can now be studied on Earth

02.05.2018

Solar flares, cosmic radiation, and the northern lights are well known phenomena. But exactly how their enormous energy arises is not as well understood.

Now, physicists at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a new way to study these spectacular space plasma phenomena in a laboratory environment. The results have been published in the renowned journal Nature Communications.


Solar flares are caused by magnetic reconnection in space and can interfere with our communications satellites, affecting power grids, air traffic and telephony. Now, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have found a new way to imitate and study these spectacular space plasma phenomena in a laboratory environment.

Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/Goddard Space Flight Center

"Scientists have been trying to bring these space phenomena down to earth for a decade. With our new method we can enter a new era, and investigate what was previously impossible to study. It will tell us more about how these events occur," says Longqing Yi, researcher at the Department of Physics at Chalmers.

The research concerns so-called 'magnetic reconnection' - the process which gives rise to these phenomena. Magnetic reconnection causes sudden conversion of energy stored in the magnetic field into heat and kinetic energy.

This happens when two plasmas with anti-parallel magnetic fields are pushed together, and the magnetic field lines converge and reconnect. This interaction leads to violently accelerated plasma particles that can sometimes be seen with the naked eye - for example, during the northern lights.

Magnetic reconnection in space can also influence us on earth. The creation of solar flares can interfere with communications satellites, and thus affect power grids, air traffic and telephony.

In order to imitate and study these spectacular space plasma phenomena in the laboratory, you need a high-power laser, to create magnetic fields around a million times stronger than those found on the surface of the sun. In the new scientific article, Longqing Yi, along with Professor Tünde Fülöp from the Department of Physics, proposed an experiment in which magnetic reconnection can be studied in a new, more precise way.

Through the use of grazing incidence of ultra-short laser pulses, the effect can be achieved without overheating the plasma. The process can thus be studied very cleanly, without the laser directly affecting the internal energy of the plasma.

The proposed experiment would therefore allow us to seek answers to some of the most fundamental questions in astrophysics.

"We hope that this can inspire many research groups to use our results. This is a great opportunity to look for knowledge that could be useful in a number of areas. For example, we need to better understand solar flares, which can interfere with important communication systems. We also need to be able to control the instabilities caused by magnetic reconnection in fusion devices," says Tünde Fülöp.

The study on which the new results are based was financed by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation, through the framework of the project 'Plasma-based Compact Ion Sources', and the ERC project 'Running away and radiating'.

Media Contact

Joshua Worth
joshua.worth@chalmers.se
46-317-726-379

 @chalmersuniv

http://www.chalmers.se/en/ 

Joshua Worth | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-04065-3

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First radio detection of an extrasolar planetary system around a main-sequence star
04.08.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht The art of making tiny holes
04.08.2020 | Vienna University of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

Im Focus: NYUAD astrophysicist investigates the possibility of life below the surface of Mars

  • A rover expected to explore below the surface of Mars in 2022 has the potential to provide more insights
  • The findings published in Scientific Reports, Springer Nature suggests the presence of traces of water on Mars, raising the question of the possibility of a life-supporting environment

Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu...

Im Focus: Manipulating non-magnetic atoms in a chromium halide enables tuning of magnetic properties

New approach creates synthetic layered magnets with unprecedented level of control over their magnetic properties

The magnetic properties of a chromium halide can be tuned by manipulating the non-magnetic atoms in the material, a team, led by Boston College researchers,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

First radio detection of an extrasolar planetary system around a main-sequence star

04.08.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

The art of making tiny holes

04.08.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Early Mars was covered in ice sheets, not flowing rivers

04.08.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>