A Burst of Microdroplets

A microbubble impacts a larger bubble, creating a tiny jet

If you hold a bubbly beverage like champagne or soda near your face, you’ll feel a light mist of tiny, nearly invisible droplets.These droplets form when bubbles reach the surface and pop, generating a tiny jet that ejects an even tinier droplet, as shown in the animation above. This process is remarkably common; its occurrence in the ocean results in billions of tons of sea salt entering our atmosphere each year. Since these tiny microdroplets stay aloft for far longer than their larger brethren, understanding how they form and just how small they can be is vital for understanding their impact on climate, pathogen spreading, and other topics. A new study suggests that the minimum size for an ejected droplet is just 1% of the size of the bubble that births it. (Image and research credit: C. F. Brasz et al., source)

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