Here are 20 examples of plasma. Plasma is the most abundant state of matter in the universe. Unlike solids, liquids, and gases, plasma consists of free electrons or ions that aren’t bound to an atomic nucleus.
- Comet tail
- Solar wind
- Stars (including the Sun)
- Interstellar gas clouds
- Welding arcs
- Interior of neon signs and fluorescent lights
- Interior of a plasma ball toy
- Static electricity
- Fireball of a nuclear explosion
- Earth’s ionosphere
- Earth’s magnetosphere
- Plasma displays of some televisions
- Rocket exhaust and thrusters
- Area in front of a heat shield during spacecraft re-entry
- Interstellar nebula
- Interstellar and intergalactic medium
- St. Elmo’s fire
- Fire (if it is hot enough)
Properties of Plasma
Plasma displays properties that distinguish it from other states of matter.
- Because it consists of charged particles, plasma has innate electrical conductivity.
- Because the charged particles have kinetic energy, plasma always has a magnetic field.
- Overall, most plasma is electrically neutral. That is, it contains the same amount of positive and negative charges. However, there can be regions of current density that form filaments (visible in a plasma ball or aurora) or magnetic ropes. Also, there is non-neutral plasma that consists entirely of a single charge (e.g., particle beams or the electrons in a Penning trap).
- Like a gas, a plasma has no definite shape or volume.
In biology, plasma has a different meaning than in physics. Plasma is the liquid portion of blood. It is 92% water and accounts of 55% of blood volume.
- Goldston, R.J.; Rutherford, P.H. (1995). Introduction to Plasma Physics. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-7503-0183-1.
- Morozov, A.I. (2012). Introduction to Plasma Dynamics. CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4398-8132-3.
- Sturrock, Peter A. (1994). Plasma Physics: An Introduction to the Theory of Astrophysical, Geophysical & Laboratory Plasmas. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-44810-9.