Last updated on August 31, 2019
A paper showing a laboratory model of the helical structure of the solar magnetic field and the plasma flow is published this week. Using this model as an alternative to complement space missions such as NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission, these phenomena can be studied. The solar wind sweeps the solar magnetic field. As the sun rotates, the magnetic field bends into a helical structure called a Parker spiral.
The region where the extension and twisting of the magnetic field begins is considered to be extremely dynamic, but it has hardly been investigated so far. E Peterson and colleagues now reproduce this Parker Spiral in the laboratory by rotating the helium plasma in a large red sphere device (plasma confinement vessel).
When the plasma rotated fast enough, the magnetic field formed a spiral. The authors then used the measurements of magnetic structure and plasma flow obtained from the probe in a huge red sphere to elucidate the stellar dynamics of this laboratory. The authors conclude that the Parker spiral is much more complex and vast than the laboratory formed spiral, but the plasma model accurately reproduces the structure of the solar magnetic field.
They also suggest that they may be used to further investigate the origin and evolution of the solar wind.