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- Astronomy & Astrophysics
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- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)Understanding magnetic-field generation and amplification in turbulent plasma is essential to account for observations of magnetic fields in the universe. A theoretical framework attributing the origin and sustainment of these fields to the so-called fluctuation dynamo was recently validated by experiments on laser facilities in low-magnetic-Prandtl-number plasmas ( P m < 1 ). However, the same framework proposes that the fluctuation dynamo should operate differently when P m ≳ 1 , the regime relevant to many astrophysical environments such as the intracluster medium of galaxy clusters. This paper reports an experiment that creates a laboratory P m ≳ 1 plasma dynamo. We provide a time-resolved characterization of the plasma’s evolution, measuring temperatures, densities, flow velocities, and magnetic fields, which allows us to explore various stages of the fluctuation dynamo’s operation on seed magnetic fields generated by the action of the Biermann-battery mechanism during the initial drive-laser target interaction. The magnetic energy in structures with characteristic scales close to the driving scale of the stochastic motions is found to increase by almost three orders of magnitude and saturate dynamically. It is shown that the initial growth of these fields occurs at a much greater rate than the turnover rate of the driving-scale stochastic motions. Our results point to the possibility that plasma turbulence produced by strong shear can generate fields more efficiently at the driving scale than anticipated by idealized magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) simulations of the nonhelical fluctuation dynamo; this finding could help explain the large-scale fields inferred from observations of astrophysical systems.more » « less
The standard magnetorotational instability (SMRI) is a promising mechanism for turbulence and rapid accretion in astrophysical disks. It is a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) instability that destabilizes otherwise hydrodynamically stable disk flow. Due to its microscopic nature at astronomical distances and stringent requirements in laboratory experiments, SMRI has remained unconfirmed since its proposal, despite its astrophysical importance. Here we report a nonaxisymmetric MHD instability in a modified Taylor-Couette experiment. To search for SMRI, a uniform magnetic field is imposed along the rotation axis of a swirling liquid-metal flow. The instability initially grows exponentially, becoming prominent only for sufficient flow shear and moderate magnetic field. These conditions for instability are qualitatively consistent with SMRI, but at magnetic Reynolds numbers below the predictions of linear analyses with periodic axial boundaries. Three-dimensional numerical simulations, however, reproduce the observed instability, indicating that it grows linearly from the primary axisymmetric flow modified by the applied magnetic field.
We present numerical simulation results for the propagation of Alfvén waves in the charge starvation regime. This is the regime where the plasma density is below the critical value required to supply the current for the wave. We analyse a conservative scenario where Alfvén waves pick up charges from the region where the charge density exceeds the critical value and advect them along at a high Lorentz factor. The system consisting of the Alfvén wave and charges being carried with it, which we call charge-carrying Alfvén wave (CC-AW), moves through a medium with small, but non-zero, plasma density. We find that the interaction between CC-AW and the stationary medium has a two-stream like instability which leads to the emergence of a strong electric field along the direction of the unperturbed magnetic field. The growth rate of this instability is of the order of the plasma frequency of the medium encountered by the CC-AW. Our numerical code follows the system for hundreds of wave periods. The numerical calculations suggest that the final strength of the electric field is of the order of a few per cent of the AW amplitude. Little radiation is produced by the sinusoidally oscillating currents associated with the instability during the linear growth phase. However, in the non-linear phase, the fluctuating current density produces strong EM radiation near the plasma frequency and limits the growth of the instability.
Revealing the formation, dynamics, and contribution to plasma heating of magnetic field fluctuations in the solar wind is an important task for heliospheric physics and for a general plasma turbulence theory. Spacecraft observations in the solar wind are limited to spatially localized measurements, so that the evolution of fluctuation properties with solar wind propagation is mostly studied via statistical analyses of data sets collected by different spacecraft at various radial distances from the Sun. In this study we investigate the evolution of turbulence in the Earth’s magnetosheath, a plasma system sharing many properties with the solar wind. The near-Earth space environment is being explored by multiple spacecraft missions, which may allow us to trace the evolution of magnetosheath fluctuations with simultaneous measurements at different distances from their origin, the Earth’s bow shock. We compare ARTEMIS and Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission measurements in the Earth magnetosheath and Parker Solar Probe measurements of the solar wind at different radial distances. The comparison is supported by three numerical simulations of the magnetosheath magnetic and plasma fluctuations: global hybrid simulation resolving ion kinetic and including effects of Earth’s dipole field and realistic bow shock, hybrid and Hall-MHD simulations in expanding boxes that mimic the magnetosheath volume expansion with the radial distance from the dayside bow shock. The comparison shows that the magnetosheath can be considered as a miniaturized version of the solar wind system with much stronger plasma thermal anisotropy and an almost equal amount of forward and backward propagating Alfvén waves. Thus, many processes, such as turbulence development and kinetic instability contributions to plasma heating, occurring on slow timescales and over large distances in the solar wind, occur more rapidly in the magnetosheath and can be investigated in detail by multiple near-Earth spacecraft.
null (Ed.)Inertial confinement fusion approaches involve the creation of high-energy-density states through compression. High gain scenarios may be enabled by the beneficial heating from fast electrons produced with an intense laser and by energy containment with a high-strength magnetic field. Here, we report experimental measurements from a configuration integrating a magnetized, imploded cylindrical plasma and intense laser-driven electrons as well as multi-stage simulations that show fast electrons transport pathways at different times during the implosion and quantify their energy deposition contribution. The experiment consisted of a CH foam cylinder, inside an external coaxial magnetic field of 5 T, that was imploded using 36 OMEGA laser beams. Two-dimensional (2D) hydrodynamic modelling predicts the CH density reaches 9.0 g cm − 3 , the temperature reaches 920 eV and the external B-field is amplified at maximum compression to 580 T. At pre-determined times during the compression, the intense OMEGA EP laser irradiated one end of the cylinder to accelerate relativistic electrons into the dense imploded plasma providing additional heating. The relativistic electron beam generation was simulated using a 2D particle-in-cell (PIC) code. Finally, three-dimensional hybrid-PIC simulations calculated the electron propagation and energy deposition inside the target and revealed the roles the compressed and self-generated B-fields play in transport. During a time window before the maximum compression time, the self-generated B-field on the compression front confines the injected electrons inside the target, increasing the temperature through Joule heating. For a stronger B-field seed of 20 T, the electrons are predicted to be guided into the compressed target and provide additional collisional heating. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue ‘Prospects for high gain inertial fusion energy (part 2)’.more » « less