Photo: Jeff Miller/UW-Madison
Photo: Jeff Miller/UW-Madison

Science

Mini Sun: US Scientists Recreate The 'Sun' In Their Laboratory To Study Solar Winds

Written By Suchitra Karthikeyan | Mumbai | Published:

Hack:

  • US scientists have recently built their own "mini-sun" in the University of Wisconsin-Madison for studying solar winds
  • The team explains how the interaction between the Sun’s magnetic field and the solar wind creates a magnetic structure, known as the Parker spiral which sustains our Solar system
  • The team has observed that their ' Big red Ball' system mimicked in the laboratory can be used for studying solar wind dynamics just like NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission

India may be developing to send a probe to the Sun to study solar winds, but US scientists have recently built their own "mini-sun" in the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the same purpose, as per international reports.

The reports say that the team developed the miniature Sun- 'the Big Red Ball', to study how the actual Sun's magnetic field influences the entire solar system. The team has published its findings in the Science journal - Nature on Monday.

Aim of the 'Sun' study

According to the study, the team explains how the interaction between the Sun’s magnetic field and the solar wind creates a magnetic structure, known as the Parker spiral which is integral in the sustenance of our Solar system. 

"While satellite missions have documented pretty well where the fast wind comes from, we were trying to study specifically how the slow solar wind is generated and how it evolves as it travels toward Earth," stated Ethan Peterson, lead author on the study in a press release.

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How did they recreate the 'Sun'?

They further explain how they tried to replicate the system to study its effect by pumping helium gas into their 'Sun' to turn it into plasma along with placing a magnet at the center of the 'Sun' to create a magnetic field. The 'Big Red Ball' which is 3 metres wide was subjected to an electrical field, creating an electromagnet similar to the actual sun's plasma and magnetic fields.

What did they observe?

The team has observed that their ' Big red Ball' system mimicked in the laboratory can be used for studying solar wind dynamics just like NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission. They reached this conclusion as they found that magnetic field induced in their spiral ejected 'quasi-periodic plasma blobs' which was similar to the plasmoids observed on the actual Sun, thus fuelling the slow solar wind.

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Meanwhile, NASA's Parker Solar Probe is currently circling the Sun observing the solar wind to study the same effects on ground. India too is planning its solar mission Aditya L1 to answer ISRO's question - 'How the corona gets heated to such high temperatures?'
 

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