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Can you give me more detailed information on the 4 stages of matter, especially plasma? What is plasma? Where does it come from?

Rose S., Watts Middle School, Dayton, Ohio (10/99)

As you move from solid to liquid to gas there is an increase in energy (that's how you change the phase - think of how you melt ice, or turn water into steam). Plasma is formed at even higher energy levels. Most is formed in stars (like our sun), where the extreme energy literally rips atoms apart into their atomic particles (electrons, protons (and neutrons?)) and blows the pieces out into space at a high rate of speed. As far as I know, plasma is not produced naturally on earth. However, scientists do make it in laboratories all the time, and use it to investigate the properties of atomic particles.

Click here for a related question on changes of phase.

Click here for a related question on a possible 5th phase of matter.


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