Is it possible to recreate Aurora's in a laboratory experiment? Obviously, I'm not asking if it's possible to have bands of plasma thousands of kilometers long inside a lab. But rather, is it possible to create a particle stream analogous to solar winds, and ionize low-pressure gas into a plasma using this artificial solar wind? If it is possible, has this been done before?


Certainly. Classroom demonstration tubes can be bought that create colored ionization patterns inside when connected to a high voltage DC source. By putting different gases into the vacuum in tiny amounts, you get different colors. these are called glow discharge tubes. I watched while my science teacher demonstrated these to us in 1965.

  • $\begingroup$ This gives a result similar to Aurora's, IE a colored plasma, but the mechanism is quite different, is it not? Here, the gas is ionized using electricity, whereas the plasma in an Aurora is caused by the solar wind. Thank you for the answer either way, I looked them up online and those do look very neat. $\endgroup$ – Xylord Feb 15 at 5:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Xylord the solar wind is a plasma carrying magnetic fields and it is a magnetic field interaction, in the tube it is the electric fields , but maxwell's equations are symmetric after all. $\endgroup$ – anna v Feb 15 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Xylord - The aurora are primarily created by electrons coming from the geomagnetic tail, not the solar wind. Changes in solar wind properties (e.g., dynamic pressure) affect the terrestrial magnetosphere leading to a chain of events that accelerate and precipitate ~1-10 keV electrons into the ionosphere. $\endgroup$ – honeste_vivere Feb 15 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ @annav - It is actually time-varying electric fields that accelerate the electrons, not the solar wind magnetic field. Specifically, the electric fields are generated/carried by things called kinetic Alfven waves, lower hybrid waves, electrostatic solitary waves, electrostatic double layers, whistler mode waves, etc. All of these help contribute to acceleration and precipitation. $\endgroup$ – honeste_vivere Feb 15 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @honeste_vivere thanks for the correction, so it is really similar what happens in the tubes and aurora $\endgroup$ – anna v Feb 15 at 15:10

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