astroengine writes: "With the help of a vacuum chamber, electromagnet, plasma injection gun and a high-voltage supply, researchers from Caltech have created — for a split second — their very own coronal loop analog. Coronal loops are found in the lower atmosphere of the sun and are often the sites of flaring events. By creating a micro version of these plasma-filled loops in the lab, it is hoped space weather prediction models can be refined to better understand the magnetic environment. Already the research is proving fruitful — the researchers have observed two forces at work as the plasma loop expands, filling with plasma from both footpoints. "One force expands the arch radius and so lengthens the loop while the other continuously injects plasma from both ends into the loop," Paul Bellan, professor of applied physics at Caltech, explained. "This latter force injects just the right amount of plasma to keep the density in the loop constant as it lengthens." Next up will be a test to see how two plasma loops interact in close vicinity."