How is plasma formed?


Quick Answer

Plasma is formed by increasing the temperature of a gas until the electrons within have enough energy to break free of the positive force of attraction exhibited by the nucleus. Plasma is considered the fourth state of matter.

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Full Answer

Although it is significantly different from a gaseous state of matter in characteristics, plasma is often described as a hot ionized gas. Generally, the number of negatively charged electrons that are free flowing in plasma will be equal the number of positively charged ions within. Because the particles in plasma are free flowing, they are strongly influenced by outside forces, such as magnetism and electrical fields.

The equal proportions of the particles in plasma give it a relatively neutral charge overall and allow it to remain stable even when affected by distant forces as easily as it is.

Plasma is believed by scientist to be the most common element in the observable universe, with approximately 99% of the observable matter found in the plasma state. It is naturally occurring and can be found in stars, lightning, the Aurora Borealis, the Sun and common flames. Plasma is also used in neon signs, TVs and fluorescent bulbs because of its characteristic glow when electrically charged.

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