Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Gusty winds' in space turbulence: First direct measurement of its kind in the lab

Date:
December 17, 2012
Source:
University of Iowa
Summary:
Imagine riding in an airplane as the plane is jolted back and forth by gusts of wind that you can't prove exist but are there nonetheless. Similar turbulence exists in space, and a research team has directly measured it for the first time in the laboratory.

A solar prominence erupts into the sun's atmosphere, or corona. Credit: NASA.A solar prominence erupts into the sun's atmosphere, or corona.
Credit: Image courtesy of NASA

Imagine riding in an airplane as the plane is jolted back and forth by gusts of wind that you can't prove exist but are there nonetheless.

Similar turbulence exists in space, and a research team led by the University of Iowa reports to have directly measured it for the first time in the laboratory.

"Turbulence is not restricted to environments here on Earth, but also arises pervasively throughout the solar system and beyond, driving chaotic motions in the ionized gas, or plasma, that fills the universe," says Gregory Howes, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the UI and lead author of the paper to be published Dec. 17 in the online edition of Physical Review Letters, the journal of the American Physical Society. "It is thought to play a key role in heating the atmosphere of the sun, the solar corona, to temperatures of a million degrees Celsius, nearly a thousand times hotter than the surface of the sun."

He adds: "Turbulence also regulates the formation of the stars throughout the galaxy, determines the radiation emitted from the super massive black hole at the center of our galaxy and mediates the effects that space weather has on the Earth."

One well-known source of gusty space winds are the violent emissions of charged particles from the sun, known as coronal mass ejections. These solar-powered winds can adversely affect satellite communications, air travel and the electric power grid. On the positive side, solar storms also can also lead to mesmerizing auroras at the north and south poles on Earth.

Howes notes that unlike gusts of wind on the surface of Earth, turbulent motions in space and astrophysical systems are governed by Alfven waves, which are traveling disturbances of the plasma and magnetic field. Nonlinear interactions between Alfven waves traveling up and down the magnetic field -- such as two magnetic waves colliding to create a third wave -- are a fundamental building block of plasma turbulence, and modern theories of astrophysical turbulence are based on this underlying concept, he says. "We have presented the first experimental measurement in a laboratory plasma of the nonlinear interaction between counter-propagating Alfven waves, the fundamental building block of astrophysical turbulence," Howes says.

Contributing authors on the paper are D.J. Drake, K.D. Nielson, Craig Kletzing, and Fred Skiff, all of the University of Iowa, and T.A. Carter of the University of California, Los Angeles. The research, conducted at the Large Plasma Device at UCLA, was funded by a grant from the NSF/DOE Partnership in Basic Plasma Science and Engineering.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Iowa. The original article was written by Gary Galluzzo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. G. Howes, D. J. Drake, K. D. Nielson, T. A. Carter, C. A. Kletzing, F. Skiff. Toward Astrophysical Turbulence in the Laboratory. Physical Review Letters, December 17, 2012 [link]

Cite This Page:

University of Iowa. "'Gusty winds' in space turbulence: First direct measurement of its kind in the lab." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217152547.htm>.
University of Iowa. (2012, December 17). 'Gusty winds' in space turbulence: First direct measurement of its kind in the lab. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217152547.htm
University of Iowa. "'Gusty winds' in space turbulence: First direct measurement of its kind in the lab." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217152547.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins