If you've ever seen the awe-inspiring beauty of the Northern Lights, you can thank the sun. Those colorful, dancing auroras are actually geomagnetic storms caused by violent solar eruptions of charged plasma, and while they dazzle they also interfere with GPS, radio, and sometimes even air travel. Discovering how and why they happen could help protect us—and our fragile technology. The only problem? You'd have to watch them happen, and the sun is really, really far away. Enter Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory's Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX), where scientists are making solar storms small enough to observe in the lab.
Related: What Are The Northern Lights?