After over a century of observations and several theories, scientists may have finally nailed the origin of the high-speed plasma blasting through the Sun's atmosphere several times a day. Using a state-of-the-art computer simulation, researchers have developed a detailed model of these plasma jets, called spicules. And now, Martinez-Sykoro and his team have developed a computer model that can generate simulations of these powerful plasma jets in action
The numerical model revealed that the formation of spicules happens in three distinct stages. The process begins on the surface of the Sun where churning plasma interacts with the magnetic fields, which get twisted up and knotted in the process. This distortion creates strong magnetic tension trapped close to the surface.
Next, neutral and charged particles mix above the surface in a process called ambipolar diffusion, which creates an escape route for the building magnetic tension. Then, like a slingshot, the magnetic tension is violently released into the atmosphere and out into space at staggering speed.
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