Candle flames in low gravity

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Candle flames in low gravity

Ever wonder what a candle flame looks like in no gravity?

With the gravity taken away, the flame loses it's appearance. All forces acting upon the flame are now equal so the flame becomes symmetrical, ie a sphere (the sphere will 'wobble' due to fluctuations in the air.

In the absence of buoyancy-driven convection, as in microgravity, the supply of oxygen and fuel vapor to the flame is controlled by the much slower process of molecular diffusion.

Where there is no "up" or "down," the flame tends toward sphericity. Heat lost to the top of the candle causes the base of the flame to be quenched, and only a portion of the sphere is seen.

The diminished supply of oxygen and fuel causes the flame temperature to be lowered to the point that little or no soot forms. It also causes the flame to anchor far from the wick, so that the burning rate (the amount of wax consumed per unit time) is reduced.

Picture from

candle-flames-in-low-gravity.gif - 33.04kb
By netchicken: posted on 14-2-2008

Now if only we could stick that in a low-gravity gun and use it as a weapon.
By dnavarre: posted on 17-2-2008

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