Solar flares created in the laboratory for the 1st time

A close up of an artificial plasma loop collapsing in a mini solar flare. (Image credit: Bellan Lab/Caltech)

Solar flares are huge plumes of superheated plasma ejected from the sun. These massive plumes are so large they could engulf our planet many times over. But for the first time, researchers have created mini solar flares in a lab that are small enough to fit in your lunchbox.

solar flares were born from large loops of plasma, or ionized gas, on the surface of the sun. These loops, called corona loops, form along invisible magnetic field lines that are twisted by the intense gravity of the sun. Sometimes, however, these lines spring back to their original shape like a rubber band, pushing the plasma away from the sun.

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