Mini Sun on Earth!
A team of researchers created their own miniature sun in the lab — complete with its own electromagnetic field and ultrahot plasma.
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison constructed the 3-meter-wide (10 feet) aluminum vacuum chamber, which they dubbed “the Big Red Ball,” to re-create some of the solar physics that take place in and around the sun.
They hope that their experiment will provide an “Earth-bound model for the future study of solar physics.” Ethan Peterson and his colleagues, including physics professor Cary Forest, are hoping that the Big Red Ball will allow them to study solar phenomena in three dimensions.
The solar model has a magnet at its center to mimic the sun’s magnetic field, and the researchers would pump helium inside the little sun to ionize the gas and turn it into plasma. They would then apply an electric current, which, along with the magnetic field, would cause the plasma to spin.
The sun and its atmosphere are made up of plasma, a mix of positively and negatively charged particles at extremely high temperatures. Solar wind carries this plasma in a stream away from the sun and out into space.
If you were to fill a hollow Sun with spherical Earths, somewhere around 960,000 would fit inside. However, if you squashed those Earths to ensure there was no wasted space then you could fit 1,300,000 Earths inside the Sun. The surface area of the Sun is 11,990 times that of Earth.