• Question: How can you relate your work on stars to the tokamak?

    Asked by 3llie to Jack on 14 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Jack Snape

      Jack Snape answered on 14 Mar 2012:

      Good question!

      If you heat a gas up really hot, it becomes a plasma (an electrically charged gas). Stars are made from plasma, and the gas inside a tokamak becomes a plasma when we heat it up.

      My work is to study a process where magnetic field lines ‘break’ and reconnect for form a magnetic island. This can release a lot of energy.

      In stars, magnetic field lines can also break and fire out lots of charged particles (plasma). This is what happens when you get a solar flare and charged particles stream out towards the earth. When they arrive in the earth’s magnetic field, we see them as the northern lights (aurora).

      So the tokamak, the stars and the aurora are all linked through plasma and magnetic field lines! 🙂