Science

Chinese researchers reproduce solar-flare features in lab

Chinese researchers have demonstrated laser-driven turbulent magnetic reconnection in a laboratory, an experiment that can help scientists learn more about solar flares.

A paper on the findings, which reproduce key features of solar flares, has been published in Nature Physics, an international journal on physics.

A solar flare is an intense, abrupt release of energy that occurs in the sun’s atmosphere. Severe solar flares can seriously affect the space environment of the sun and the earth, and even human lives.

“Turbulent magnetic reconnection is believed to occur in astrophysical plasmas, and it has been suggested to be a trigger of solar flares,” read the abstract of the paper.

As the conditions in laboratory experiments are scalable to those of astrophysical plasmas, the results apply to the study of solar flares, added the abstract.

The demonstration was conducted with the help of the Shenguang-II high-power laser facility at a national laboratory based in Shanghai.

“Using the high-energy laser system provided by the national laboratory, scientists can obtain extreme physical experimental conditions in the laboratory and simulate a variety of astrophysical phenomena with high-energy density,” said Zhong Jiayong, the correspondent author of the paper and a professor at the astronomy department of Beijing Normal University.

The method can verify the theoretical model of astronomical observation and offer solutions to uncover new physical processes, Zhong said.

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