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Science behind the jets of plasma

  • IASbaba
  • March 8, 2022
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Science behind the jets of plasma

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III: Science and Technology

In News: Scientists have unravelled the science behind the jets of plasma – the fourth state of matter consisting of electrically charged particles that occur just about everywhere in the sun’s chromosphere, which is the atmospheric layer just above the Sun’s visible surface.

  • These jets, or spicules, appear as thin grass-like plasma structures that constantly shoot up from the surface and are then brought down by gravity. 
  • The amount of energy and momentum that these spicules can carry is of fundamental interest in solar and plasma astrophysics. 
  • The processes by which plasma is supplied to the solar wind, and the solar atmosphere is heated to a million degrees Celsius, still remain a puzzle.
  • The plasma right below the visible solar surface (photosphere) is perpetually in a state of convection, much like boiling water in a vessel heated at the bottom. This is ultimately powered by the nuclear energy released in the hot-dense core. 
  • The convection serves almost periodic but strong kicks to the plasma in the solar chromosphere, the shallow semi-transparent layer right above the visible solar disk. The chromosphere is 500 times lighter than the plasma in the photosphere. Therefore, these strong kicks from the bottom, not unlike alligator bellowing, shoot the chromospheric plasma outward at ultrasonic speeds in the form of thin columns or spicules.
  • Spicules come in all sizes and speeds. The existing consensus in the solar community has been that the physics behind the short spicules is different from that of taller and faster spicules.

News Source: PIB

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