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Physics in the News
Title: Probing The Solar Plasma
Date: 07/20/2010
Publication: Science Matters @ Berkeley
Extended Text:

The sun is an orb of shimmering energy. It pours out life-giving light and withering heat, but also an invisible torrent of charged particles called the solar wind. Made of plasma—gases heated until their atoms disintegrate into electrons and ions—the solar wind blasts past every planet in the solar system at supersonic speeds.

“From just outside earth’s atmosphere all the way to the part of the sun you see during the day, is all plasma,” says Stuart Bale. A Berkeley professor of physics and director of the university’s Space Sciences Laboratory, Bale studies the plasmas that stream from stars and suffuse entire galaxies.