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Title: Laser-driven, ion-scale magnetospheres in laboratory plasmas. I. Experimental platform and first results
Magnetospheres are a ubiquitous feature of magnetized bodies embedded in a plasma flow. While large planetary magnetospheres have been studied for decades by spacecraft, ion-scale “mini” magnetospheres can provide a unique environment to study kinetic-scale, collisionless plasma physics in the laboratory to help validate models of larger systems. In this work, we present preliminary experiments of ion-scale magnetospheres performed on a unique high-repetition-rate platform developed for the Large Plasma Device at the University of California, Los Angeles. The experiments utilize a high-repetition-rate laser to drive a fast plasma flow into a pulsed dipole magnetic field embedded in a uniform magnetized background plasma. 2D maps of the magnetic field with high spatial and temporal resolution are measured with magnetic flux probes to examine the evolution of magnetosphere and current density structures for a range of dipole and upstream parameters. The results are further compared to 2D particle-in-cell simulations to identify key observational signatures of the kinetic-scale structures and dynamics of the laser-driven plasma. We find that distinct 2D kinetic-scale magnetopause and diamagnetic current structures are formed at higher dipole moments, and their locations are consistent with predictions based on pressure balances and energy conservation.
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Physics of Plasmas
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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