Scientists uncover exotic matter in the sun's atmosphere

phys.org | 3/7/2019 | Staff
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A solar flare captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in 2015. Credit NASA, SDO. Credit: NASA/SDO.

Scientists from Ireland and France today announced a major new finding about how matter behaves in the extreme conditions of the Sun's atmosphere.

Scientists - Radio - Telescopes - Cameras - NASA

The scientists used large radio telescopes and ultraviolet cameras on a NASA spacecraft to better understand the exotic but poorly understood "fourth state of matter". Known as plasma, this matter could hold the key to developing safe, clean and efficient nuclear energy generators on Earth. The scientists published their findings in the leading international journal Nature Communications.

Most of the matter we encounter in our everyday lives comes in the form of solid, liquid or gas, but the majority of the Universe is composed of plasma—a highly unstable and electrically charged fluid. The Sun is also made up of this plasma.

Form - Matter - Universe - Plasma - Mystery

Despite being the most common form of matter in the Universe plasma remains a mystery, mainly due to its scarcity in natural conditions on Earth, which makes it difficult to study. Special laboratories on Earth recreate the extreme conditions of space for this purpose, but the Sun represents an all-natural laboratory to study how plasma behaves in conditions that are often too extreme for the manually constructed Earth-based laboratories.

Postdoctoral Researcher at Trinity College Dublin and the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS), Dr. Eoin Carley, 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."

Scientists - Paris - Observatory - Observations - Sun

"We 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. We...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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