Researchers from Ireland and France have reported a new discovery about how matter acts in the utmost conditions of the Sun’s atmosphere. Researchers had used large radio telescopes and ultraviolet cameras on a NASA spacecraft to better apprehend the exotic, but badly understood “the fourth state of matter”, which is known as plasma. This substance could hold the clue to evolving safe and efficient nuclear energy generators on the Earth.
This study was published in the international journal Nature Communications.
In our day to day lives, most of the substances we come into contact with, are in the form of solid, liquid or gas. However, the major part of the Universe is composed of plasma, which is a highly unsteady and electrically charged fluid, the Sun is also assembled of this plasma. In spite of being the most customary form of substance in the Cosmos, plasma still residues a mystery. Mostly, because of its scarcity in the natural conditions on the Earth which makes it hard to study.
An exceptional labs was recreated on the Earth for the utmost conditions of space, for this purpose. But, the Sun represents an all natural laboratory to study how plasma acts in conditions that are frequently too uttermost for the manually erected Earth based research laboratories.
Dr Eoin Carley, A Postdoctoral Researcher at Trinity College Dublin and the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS), led the international collaboration. He said, “The solar atmosphere is a hotbed of extreme activity, with plasma temperatures in excess of 1 million degrees Celsius and particles that travel close to light-speed. The light-speed particles shine bright at radio wavelengths, so we’re able to monitor exactly how plasmas behave with large radio telescopes.”
In inclusion, he said that they had worked closely with scientists at the Paris Observatory and performed observations of the Sun with a large radio telescope located in Nançay in central France. They combined the radio observations with ultraviolet cameras on NASA’s space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft to show that plasma on the sun can often emit radio light that pulses like a light-house. They know about this activity for decades, however their use of space and ground-based equipment let them to image the radio pulses for the first time and see exactly how plasmas become unsteady in the solar atmosphere.
Researching the way of behaving of plasmas on the Sun allows for a collation of how they act on Earth. Now much tries are under way to build magnetic confinement fusion reactors. These are nuclear energy generators that are much safer, cleaner and more efficient than their fission reactor cousins that we presently utilise for energy nowadays.
A favourable outcome of this study was made possible by the close tie up between researchers at Trinity, DIAS, and their French associators. This research was financed by the Irish Research Council.