Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 17:20 EDT

Breaking Plasma Jet

February 15, 2012

An argon plasma jet forms a rapidly growing corkscrew, known as a kink instability. This instability causes an even faster-developing behavior called a Rayleigh-Taylor instability, in which ripples grow and tear the jet apart. This phenomenon, the Caltech researchers say, has never been seen before and could be important in understanding solar flares and in developing nuclear fusion as a future energy source.  Credit: A. L. Moser and P. M. Bellan, Caltech