Also called a zeta pinch, or Bennett Pinch, a z-pinch occurs when the electric current in plasma generates a magnetic field that compresses the plasma. The z-pinch term refers to the z-axis direction of the electric current on a 3-D graph.
A z-pinch is a result of the Lorentz force, F=qE+qv x B, in which a current-carrying conductor in a magnetic field B experiences the force F. For example, two parallel wires carrying current in the same direction attract each other. Replace the cables by a plasma, which is basically many current-carrying wires, and the plasma particles will attract each other by the Lorentz force. Nice and straightforward. The result is a plasma contraction, hence the term 'pinch.'
High-intensity electric current going through plasma is spiral in form. Called Birkeland currents, the spirals occur in pairs and compress matter between them, whether ionized or not. That's the pinch.
In 1934, W.H. Bennett looked at how cosmic electric currents - Birkeland currents - were able to accrete and crush ionized and non-ionized material in space plasma. The Bennett pinch mechanism appears to explain the observation that matter in space tends to form plenty of filamentary structures.
Astroscientists thought that magnetic fields in space dispersed matter. However, now we see through Bennett’s work that the opposite is true. Electric currents in space align with magnetic fields and pair up as Birkeland currents.
Birkeland Current Z-Pinch
As electron mass is a fraction of a positive ion, space electrons are the more mobile charge carriers in plasma. They are a plasma’s main current-carrying particles. If they attempt to move against the direction of the magnetic force, they experience a force. In other words, they get entangled and can’t easily move through the plasma. However, if they’re moving with the magnetic force, they don’t get deflected and avoid entanglement. They are then ‘force-free’ and ‘field aligned’ electrons.
These aligned electrons form invisible cosmic transmission lines, carrying energy across the cosmos. They behave like multi-stranded wires in an electric grid. As the current flows in alignment with a magnetic field (caused by other moving currents), it’s pinched into long filaments. These then twist themselves into rope-like structures called Birkeland currents:
Birkeland currents are seen in the spiral forms, filaments, and axial jets of galaxies, nebulae, and even in the tails of comets. The twisted current ropes form repeated patterns all over the Universe. Electricity does indeed drive the cosmos.