Metastable supercooled plasma
The computer ab initio simulation and analytical theory that revealed unexpected nonergodic properties in a classical Coulomb plasma are reviewed. The results of a many-charged-particle system simulation predict the possible existence of a real metastable plasma, supercooled with respect to its degree of ionisation. The existence of such a plasma state is a consequence of the entropy conservation in isolated Hamiltonian systems free from any stochastic action from outside. The occurrence of a metastable supercooled plasma-similar to a supercooled vapour or superheated liquid- depends on two conditions. Firstly, all the charged particles should behave exactly according to the laws of classical mechanics (hence, most negatively-charged particles should preferably be heavy ions). Secondly, the plasma ionisation degree should be sufficiently high (α>10-3) . It is shown from thermodynamic consiferations that a mixture of a supercooled plasma with an ideal gas might form a plasmoid of the ball lightning type.