Cosmic jets re-created in a lab

Plasma jets erupt from a newly born star, illustration

BABY STAR  Plasma jets erupt from a newly born star that is encircled by a disk of gas and dust in this artist’s illustration.

L. Calada/ESO

Guest post by Christopher Crockett

Physicists have re-created the jets of charged particles that erupt from young stars. By firing a laser at a chunk of plastic and switching on a magnet roughly one million times as strong as Earth’s, the researchers launched a long, thin plasma stream along the magnet’s field. The work appears in the Oct. 17 Science.

Jets turn up all across the universe, from young stars to supermassive black holes. By creating jets in a lab, researchers can better understand what drives these ubiquitous cosmic fountains and what role they play in star formation and galaxy evolution.

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