Quanta | Sun’s Puzzling Plasma Recreated in a Laboratory

Sun's magnetic fields trap hot plasmas in their loops
The sun’s magnetic fields trap hot plasmas in their loops, as seen in this ultraviolet image taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft. The solar flare seen on the right caused moderate radio blackouts on Earth. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)


Also published in Nautilus Magazine

July 2019

Even a celestial body as familiar as the sun has a few secrets. Above the sun’s visible surface, hot gases made up of charged particles stretch into space to form the sun’s superheated outer layers, including the streaky corona, which can be seen looking like a lion’s mane during a total solar eclipse. Some process heats up these plasmas in the corona to millions of degrees and makes them speed away from the sun as solar wind.