Creating a Star on Earth

on March 06, 2014 at 5:00 PM

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At the Energy Department’s Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, scientists are trying to accomplish what was once considered the realm of science fiction: creating a star on Earth.

The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) is a magnetic fusion device that is used to study the physics principles of spherically shaped plasmas — hot ionized gases in which, under the right conditions, nuclear fusion will occur. Fusion is the energy source of the sun and all of the stars. The NSTX creates and controls plasmas that are much hotter than the 15 million-degree (Celsius) core of the sun.

A recent NSTX upgrade, launching later this year, will double the experiment’s current and heating capacity and the strength of the magnets that confine the plasma inside magnetic fields. Not just limited to theoretical work, the NSTX is enabling cutting-edge research to develop fusion as a future energy source.

Watch the video above and learn more about this “star on Earth.”