In microgravity, flames given so little oxygen that on Earth they  would extinguish, do not go out but break up into tiny, two-dimensional  caps called flamelets. Much like smoldering coals in a banked hearth,  these flamelets can persist for long periods under near-limit conditions  and, if oxygen is reintroduced, ignite a larger flame, with serious  implications for fire safety on space missions.

A test performed on a sample in a narrow channel apparatus at  Michigan State University shows a series of continuous bifurcations and  extinctions. The flamelets optimize the distance between one another  depending on the oxygen level, a resource that they are essentially  competing for. The width of each flamelet finger scales with heat losses  to the surface, whereas the space between fingers scales with both  oxygen flow rate and heat losses.