A gas-discharge tube used, especially in photography, to provide an electronic flash when a current is suddenly passed through it.
- The capacitor is connected to the two electrodes on the flash tube at all times, but unless the xenon gas is ionized, the tube can't conduct the current, so the capacitor can't discharge.
- Unlike the short, high-thrust burns of most chemical rocket engines, the ion engine emits only a faint blue glow of electrically charged atoms of xenon, the same gas found in photo flash tubes and in many lighthouse bulbs.
- That's why the electronic flash on a camera uses a capacitor - the battery charges up the flash's capacitor over several seconds, and then the capacitor dumps the full charge into the flash tube almost instantly.
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