New Jersey — A group of scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) may have a clue as to how galaxies and stars form their magnetic fields.

Lead researchers Jonathan Squire and Amitava Bhattacharjee based their investigation on the behavior of dynamos, which are born from the swirling of an electrically charged substance — in this case, plasma.

The image shows a Polarized Emission from Milky Way Dust. Credit: ESA

They found that when plasma moves in a certain way, its electrically charged particles are able to create a small magnetic field. While there was a hypothesis that these individual magnetic fields could join together in order to create a larger and stronger field, the possibility seemed remote, given that magnetic energy usually tends to dissipate over time.

Bhattacharjee questioned what made these magnetic fields keep intact and persistent through time.

Despite the occurrence being unlikely, scientists conducted digital statistical simulations to observe the magnetic fields’ behavior under different conditions, and found that they were in fact persisting. Bhattacharjee added that to get to conclusions about the magnetic field’s persistence for an extended period of time, they needed to run simulations in very low dissipation sceneries — which current computer systems are not yet able to perform.

“It is impossible to run simulations for dissipation as low as those of real astrophysical plasmas, but our analytical and computational results, in the range in which they are done, strongly suggest that such dynamo action is possible,” explained Bhattacharjee.

Researchers managed to conduct tests on very similar conditions to the desired low rate of dissipation and found that magnetic fields formed from plasma have the ability to merge and stay joined and active through billions of years.

This discovery may create a base for scientists to analyze other events in the astronomy field, such as the disks that form around black holes, the solar cycle of our sun and the creation of fusion energy.

In fact, teams from the U.S, China and other nations are currently working on building a facility for the creation of fusion energy using a new method that utilizes plasma in a confinement state.

Source: Tech Times