Space image: Burning

May 26, 2011
Image Credit: NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- Because of the absence of gravity, fuels burning in space behave very differently than they do on Earth. In this image, a 3-millimeter diameter droplet of heptane fuel burns in microgravity, producing soot.

When a bright, uniform backlight is placed behind the droplet and flame and recorded by a video camera, the appears as a dark cloud. Image processing techniques can then quantify the soot concentration at each point in the image. On the , the Flame Extinguishing Experiment examines the combustion of such droplets.

This colorized gray-scale image is a composite of the individual video frames of the backlit fuel droplet. The bright yellow structure in the middle is the path of the droplet, which becomes smaller as it burns. Initial soot structures (in green) tend to form near the liquid fuel. These come together into larger and larger particles which ultimately spiral out of the flame zone in long, twisting streamers.

Explore further: USC engineers say solid particles may burn more safely and efficiently in space than gaseous fuels

Related Stories

Droplets that Roll Uphill

September 24, 2007

A recent experiment conducted by physicists at University of Bristol in the United Kingdom has shown that liquid drops can defy gravity. Droplets of liquid on an inclined plate that is shaken up and down can travel uphill ...

Cleaner diesels thanks to laser light

December 7, 2007

Dutch researcher Bas Bougie has developed a laser system to investigate soot development in diesel engines. Small soot particles are not retained by a soot filter but are, however, more harmful than larger soot particles. ...

NOAA takes first broad look at soot from ships

July 9, 2008

Tugboats puff out more soot for the amount of fuel used than other commercial vessels, and large cargo ships emit more than twice as much soot as previously estimated, according to the first extensive study of commercial ...

Is it safe to breathe yet?

April 26, 2010

Anyone who has ridden behind a truck belching black exhaust knows the smell and discomfort caused by soot, the airborne carbon particles that result from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons such as diesel fuel. Those ...

Recommended for you

'Bathtub rings' suggest Titan's dynamic seas

July 28, 2015

Saturn's moon, Titan, is the only object in the Solar System other than Earth known to have liquid on its surface. While most of the lakes are found around the poles, the dry regions near the equator contain signs of evaporated ...

Born-again planetary nebula

July 28, 2015

Beneath the vivid hues of this eye-shaped cloud, named Abell 78, a tale of stellar life and death is unfolding. At the centre of the nebula, a dying star – not unlike our Sun – which shed its outer layers on its way to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.