Observations of plasma in the Sun’s atmosphere will help tame nuclear fusion?
Scientists from Ireland and France have succeeded in imaging the radio pulses generated by plasma on the Sun, so they were able to see how plasma becomes unstable. The research could lead to a breakthrough in achieving a controlled fusion reaction, which could result in cheap, safe and clean energy available to humans.
Most of the matter, from whichohe plasma we encounter in our daily lives is in the form of a solid, liquid or gas, but most of the Universe is made up of plasma – exotic, highly unstable, poorly understood fourth state of matter. Of this matter consists of roalso Sun.
A better understanding of plasma could be crucial to the development of safe, clean and efficient fusion power plants. Labs around the world have been experimenting with a controlled thermonuclear reaction for years. Such a reaction is a majorownym źródłoroThe energy background of stars. In order to obtain controlled nuclear fusion, equipment such as a tokamak or stellarator is required, where a ring of hot plasma is maintained thanks to a strong magnetic field, making it possible to carry out a thermonuclear stena.
Therefore, studying the behavior of plasma on the Sun is of great importance. This allows porown understanding how plasma behaves in Earth’s laboratories. If the process could be replicated, millions of households could be powered with such energy. Humanity would provide energy security for years. On top of that, the process is cheaper, safer and environmentally friendly, as it does not produce harmful by-products, as with current reactors ofoin the nuclear.
– Nuclear fusion is another type of nuclear power generation thatory binds plasma atoms together, as opposed to breaking them into pieces, as in fission. Fusion is safer and does not require highly radioactive fuel. In fact, most of the wasteoin from nuclear fusion is inert helium – said Peter Gallagher of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS).
In all experiments with nuclear fusion, ktore have conducted so far have failed to achieve a positive energy balance, that is, to produce more energy than has been consumed. Perhaps the work of scientistsoIn from Ireland and France, ktoers observing the behavior of plasma on the sun will eventually allow a breakthrough to be made in this field. The results of their research appeared in the pages of „Nature Communications”.
Although plasma is the most common form of matter in the Universe, it remains a mystery, headownie due to its scarcity in natural conditions on Earth, which makes it difficult to study it. The sun represents an all-natural laboratory for studying the behavior of plasma under conditions thatore are often too extreme for Earth’s labsow. In their work, scientists from Trinity College Dublin and the Paris Observatory used large radio telescopes and ultraviolet cameras installed on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
– The solar atmosphere harbors extreme activity, in which theorej the temperature of the plasma exceeds 1 million degrees Celsius, and the particles approach the speed of light, making them clearly visible on radio waves. This allows us to closely monitor the plasma’s behavior through radio telescopes – said Dr. Eoin Carley of Trinity College Dublin and DIAS.
– Strictly co-ohe teamed up with scientists from the Paris Observatory and made observations of the Sun using a large radio telescope located in Nançay in central France. We combined radio observations with images obtained with SDO’s ultraviolet cameras to show that the plasma on the Sun often emits radio radiation, whichore pulsates like a lighthouse. We have known about this behavior for decades, but our use of space and ground-based equipment has allowed us to image radio pulses for the first time and see exactly how plasma becomes unstable in the Sun’s atmosphere – explained Carley.
Studying the behavior of plasma using the tools employed by the teamoł scientistsow can yield a wealth of valuable information thatore perhaps to find applications in nuclear fusion experiments. – The big problem is that fusion plasma is highly unstable. As soon as it starts generating energy, some natural process shuts down the reaction. And while this shutdown is like a safety switch – fusion reactors cannot create uncontrolled reactions – it means roalso that plasma is difficult to maintain in the stable state required to generate energy. By studying how plasma becomes unstable on the Sun, we can figure out how to control it on Earth – admitted Gallagher.
– The Paris Observatory has a long history of radio observations of the Sun dating back to the 1950s. In the 1970s. Thanks to wspo³ Collaboration with other radio astronomy groupsow from across Europe, we are able to make breakthrough discoveries – such as this one – and continue the successes we have achieved in radio astronomy of the Sun in France. This also reinforces the cooscientific cooperation between France and Ireland, whichora, hopefully, will continue in the future – assessed Nicole Vilmer of the Paris Observatory.