When solar flares and coronal mass ejections of plasma take place, they will generate several high-energy shock waves which travel across the solar system. These shock waves will trigger powerful solar storms which have the potential to wreak havoc on Earth as they are strong enough to compromise communication satellites, disturbing GPS devices, cell phone services, and entire power grids.
Solar winds empower the high-energy waves. The plasma found within the solar winds will interact visibly with the magnetic field which shields Earth from the deadly radiation of space. A series of experiments conducted by scientists from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, which is a part of the Princeton Center for Heliophysics, have managed to reproduce the mechanics which lead to the appearance of the powerful shocks. The new data is quite essential as it can fill the gap between observations recorded in laboratories and with the help of spacecraft, while also improving our knowledge about the Universe.
Plasma Made In The Lab Helped Scientists Learn More About Solar Storms
During the study the researchers observed how plasma (a unique state of matter which is formed by free electrons and the nuclei of atoms or ions) can interact in a manner which boosts the speed of particles which interact with a magnetic field up to the one of light and in some cases it can cause massive pressure variations. The shocks have been deemed to be collisionless since they are the results of the interaction between wave and plasma particles, instead of being generated by the particles alone.
By harnessing the power of the Omega laser facility, the researchers were able to create a laser-powered plasma which expanded at an incredible speed of more than one million miles per hour in a particular environment which was filled with ambient plasma. As the plasma expanded the ions contained within the ambient plasma reached speeds of 500,000 miles per hour, mimicking solar storms. All the details can be found in a paper which was published in a scientific journal.