NUMERICAL MODEL shows the formation of a spheromak, which is created when a plasma of ions trapped in an intense magnetic field becomes unstable because of twisting. First, a main current channel consisting of several parallel filaments appears. Then these filaments twist around each other and become interwoven. Finally, the entire plasma becomes helical and explodes outward.

Cal Tech researchers believe this process is analogous to the huge solar prominences that occur on the Sun. Their small scale simulations conducted in a vacuum chamber appear to duplicate the solar events.

Image: Cal Tech

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