Plasma

What is Plasma?

Atome

Plasma is a form of matter that starts out as a gas and then becomes ionised. Did you know that there are three states of matter? These states are gases, liquids and solids.

 

Matter is made of atoms. Each atom is made of electrically charged components: a positive central nucleus (the pink dot), and one or more negative electrons (the orbiting blue dot). The nucleus and electrons are held together by the electric attraction between positive and negative charges.

 

Ions

Plasma, however, is a bit different because it is a gas in which atoms have been broken up into free-floating negative electrons and positive ions. Ions are atoms that have lost electrons and are left with a positive electric charge.

Where Can You Find Plasma?

Soleil

Plasma can be achieved when a gas is heated to very high temperatures -- tens of thousands to millions (M) of degrees, like in the Sun. At these temperatures the neutral atoms, which are made of equal positive (ions) and negative (electrons) parts, lose their electrons.

Éclairs

This is a very common occurrence in nature. In fact, 99 percent of the universe is in some form of a plasma state, including lightning, very hot flames, nebulas, the Sun and other stars.