The sun is the source of existence of all life on our planet. Without the Sun, we would not have life. However, despite the fact that astrophysicists around the world have long been studying the structure of the main star in our planetary system, many of the processes inside the Sun are still shrouded in mystery. In order to better understand the structure of star, a group of American scientists has built in his laboratory, “a miniature Sun”.
Why build an artificial Sun
The plant is called Big Red Ball and it is designed to generate and simulate the behavior of solar plasma. Responsible for the development of the team from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, led by physicist Cary Forrester. As reported by scientists in an interview with Nature Physics, the reactions generated inside the Big Red Ball, can simulate features of the magnetic field of the Sun. This will allow us to recreate phenomena that have never before observed on Earth.
By and large, Big Red Ball simulates only part of the phenomena that come inside the Sun, nevertheless observing what happens to the solar plasma, but in a smaller scale, will help to shed light on the origin and mechanics of these phenomena, such as the solar wind.
This work is incredibly exciting, says Elizabeth Jensen, a physicist working in the team Big Red Ball. The sun is still surprisingly poorly understood. And one of the biggest mysteries is how it works solar wind, a stream of charged particles and plasma gas that streams from the Sun’s surface with extremely high velocities.
How to construct an artificial Sun
In General Big Red Ball is a hollow filled with helium plasma, a three-meter sphere. In the center apparatus installed in an extremely powerful system of magnets for generating the magnetic field. In fact Big Red Ball repeats the structure of the Sun, but in miniature. The fun started at the moment when scientists tested the installation.
The force of his pent-up inner magnetic core particles mostly moved in a confined space sphere, revolving around the center. But when the rotation has reached a speed of 22,000 miles per hour (almost 35.5 thousand kilometers per hour), the plasma escaped outside of the sphere with great speed.
“This critical threshold represents the point where the plasma has gained enough energy to overcome the magnetic limit. The released particles had its own internal magnetic field, allowing them to gain speed. Modeling has shown us a simplified version of how the solar wind so, it is possible to overcome the Sun’s gravity, which (especially at the equator of the star) is extremely strong.”