20 Examples of Plasma (Physics)


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.

Plasma Examples

A plasma ball contains ionized noble gases and is a classic example of plasma.
A plasma ball contains ionized noble gases and is a classic example of plasma. (image: Colin)
  1. Lightning
  2. Aurora
  3. Comet tail
  4. Solar wind
  5. Stars (including the Sun)
  6. Interstellar gas clouds
  7. Welding arcs
  8. Interior of neon signs and fluorescent lights
  9. Interior of a plasma ball toy
  10. Static electricity
  11. Fireball of a nuclear explosion
  12. Earth’s ionosphere
  13. Earth’s magnetosphere
  14. Plasma displays of some televisions
  15. Rocket exhaust and thrusters
  16. Area in front of a heat shield during spacecraft re-entry
  17. Interstellar nebula
  18. Interstellar and intergalactic medium
  19. St. Elmo’s fire
  20. 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.

Blood Plasma

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.

References

  • 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.

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