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 Researchers watch quantum knots untie
23.10.2019 | Aalto University

nachricht Deuteron-like heavy dibaryons -- a step towards finding exotic nuclei
22.10.2019 | Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

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: Researchers watch quantum knots untie

After first reporting the existence of quantum knots, Aalto University & Amherst College researchers now report how the knots behave

A quantum gas can be tied into knots using magnetic fields. Our researchers were the first to produce these knots as part of a collaboration between Aalto...

Im Focus: A cavity leads to a strong interaction between light and matter

Researchers have succeeded in creating an efficient quantum-mechanical light-matter interface using a microscopic cavity. Within this cavity, a single photon is emitted and absorbed up to 10 times by an artificial atom. This opens up new prospects for quantum technology, report physicists at the University of Basel and Ruhr-University Bochum in the journal Nature.

Quantum physics describes photons as light particles. Achieving an interaction between a single photon and a single atom is a huge challenge due to the tiny...

Im Focus: Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers

A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)

It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...

Im Focus: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere

Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...

Im Focus: Shaping nanoparticles for improved quantum information technology

Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Composite metal foam outperforms aluminum for use in aircraft wings

23.10.2019 | Materials Sciences

Researchers watch quantum knots untie

23.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

A technology to transform 2D planes into 3D soft and flexible structures

23.10.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>