The sun, at about 1.4 million kilometers broad, is a large ball of plasma at the center of our solar system. We have studied it for millennia, dating back to ancient historical past, and now we’re even sending probes to touch it. Probably the most intriguing elements of the sun are how its magnetic field influences the whole solar system. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison wanted to understand this process better, and they also went full Hollywood mad scientist and constructed their very own “mini-sun.”
Their creation, which will not be used for evil and is detailed in the journal Nature Physics on July 29, is hundreds of thousands of times smaller than the actual deal at just 3 meters wide and appears type of like a human brain being probed with wires and steel.
They’ve dubbed it the Big Red Ball. The researchers pump in helium gas (which is present within the actual sun) and turn it into plasma. A magnet at the center of the Ball creates a magnetic field, and as soon as the group applies an electric current to the machine, it precisely mimics how the real sun’s plasma and magnetic fields normally function.
“Satellite missions have documented fairly well where the fast wind comes from,” mentioned Ethan Peterson, lead writer on the study and a graduate student at UW-Madison, in a press release.