You do not need to send a space mission to the Sun to better explore the mysterious processes that determine the cosmic weather in the entire Solar System. We can partially create the star on Earth, in the laboratory.
The sun emits unimaginable clouds of the solar wind into space, or simply highly charged plasma particles. Although a larger number of them can not resist the strong magnetic star and fall to the surface, they are still traveling through the space to the limits of the solar system. Their manifestation on Earth is the interaction with the Earth’s magnetic field, resulting in beautiful auroras.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison decided to take a closer look at the emission of charged solar wind particles through our daily star, thanks to the small artificial sun designed and built by them. It is actually a spherical plasma generator. In the middle there is a magnetic field that produces a donut-shaped plasma with a diameter of 3 meters. The Big Red Ball device produces plasma at a temperature of 150,000 degrees Celsius. The spherical object is filled with low-pressure helium, thanks to which its functioning is completely safe for scientists.
We managed to create an artificial solar wind in laboratory conditions. Fig. UW Plasma Physics.
The sun shoots plasma plumes every 90 minutes. This phenomenon is quite regular. Although we have been researching this object intensively for several decades, we still do not know how basic processes are going. Getting to know them is crucial, not only on the way to explaining the history of the Solar System and its planets, but also because of the future of our civilization. If we want to develop as a humanity, travel through space and build colonies on alien worlds, we must better protect ourselves against unfavorable cosmic weather.
The Parker Solar Probe will also help in solar research. In the following months, she will be approaching our daily star and collect data about it. Astronomers believe that it will answer a few puzzles that have been sleeping in their eyelids for decades. First of all, why the corona is much hotter than the surface. It has a temperature of about 5.5 thousand degrees Celsius, while the atmosphere reaches as much as 2 million degrees Celsius.