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  1. Abstract Our understanding of large-scale magnetic fields in stellar radiative zones remains fragmented and incomplete. Such magnetic fields, which must be produced by some form of dynamo mechanism, are thought to dominate angular-momentum transport, making them crucial to stellar evolution. A major difficulty is the effect of stable stratification, which generally suppresses dynamo action. We explore the effects of stable stratification on mean-field dynamo theory with a particular focus on a non-helical large-scale dynamo (LSD) mechanism known as the magnetic shear-current effect. We find that the mechanism is robust to increasing stable stratification as long as the original requirements for its operation are met: a source of shear and non-helical magnetic fluctuations (e.g. from a small-scale dynamo). Both are plausibly sourced in the presence of differential rotation. Our idealized direct numerical simulations, supported by mean-field theory, demonstrate the generation of near equipartition large-scale toroidal fields. Additionally, a scan over magnetic Reynolds number shows no change in the growth or saturation of the LSD, providing good numerical evidence of a dynamo mechanism resilient to catastrophic quenching, which has been an issue for helical dynamos. These properties – the absence of catastrophic quenching and robustness to stable stratification – make the mechanism a plausible candidate for generating in situ large-scale magnetic fields in stellar radiative zones. 
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  2. Abstract

    We consider the spectrum of eigenmodes in a stellar system dominated by gravitational forces in the limit of zero collisions. We show analytically and numerically using the Lenard–Bernstein collision operator that the Landau modes, which are not true eigenmodes in a strictly collisionless system (except for the Jeans unstable mode), become part of the true eigenmode spectrum in the limit of zero collisions. Under these conditions, the continuous spectrum of true eigenmodes in a collisionless system, also known as the Case–van Kampen modes, is eliminated. Furthermore, because the background distribution function in a weakly collisional system can exhibit significant deviations from a Maxwellian distribution function over long times, we show that the spectrum of Landau modes can change drastically even in the presence of slight deviations from a Maxwellian, primarily through the appearance of weakly damped modes that may be otherwise heavily damped for a Maxwellian distribution. Our results provide important insights for developing statistical theories to describe thermal fluctuations in a stellar system, which are currently a subject of great interest forN-body simulations as well as observations of gravitational systems.

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  3. Alfvén wave collisions are the primary building blocks of the non-relativistic turbulence that permeates the heliosphere and low- to moderate-energy astrophysical systems. However, many astrophysical systems such as gamma-ray bursts, pulsar and magnetar magnetospheres and active galactic nuclei have relativistic flows or energy densities. To better understand these high-energy systems, we derive reduced relativistic magnetohydrodynamics equations and employ them to examine weak Alfvénic turbulence, dominated by three-wave interactions, in reduced relativistic magnetohydrodynamics, including the force-free, infinitely magnetized limit. We compare both numerical and analytical solutions to demonstrate that many of the findings from non-relativistic weak turbulence are retained in relativistic systems. But, an important distinction in the relativistic limit is the inapplicability of a formally incompressible limit, i.e. there exists finite coupling to the compressible fast mode regardless of the strength of the magnetic field. Since fast modes can propagate across field lines, this mechanism provides a route for energy to escape strongly magnetized systems, e.g. magnetar magnetospheres. However, we find that the fast-Alfvén coupling is diminished in the limit of oblique propagation. 
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  4. Alfvén waves as excited in black hole accretion disks and neutron star magnetospheres are the building blocks of turbulence in relativistic, magnetized plasmas. A large reservoir of magnetic energy is available in these systems, such that the plasma can be heated significantly even in the weak turbulence regime. We perform high-resolution three-dimensional simulations of counter-propagating Alfvén waves, showing that an $E_{B_{\perp }}(k_{\perp }) \propto k_{\perp }^{-2}$ energy spectrum develops as a result of the weak turbulence cascade in relativistic magnetohydrodynamics and its infinitely magnetized (force-free) limit. The plasma turbulence ubiquitously generates current sheets, which act as locations where magnetic energy dissipates. We show that current sheets form as a natural result of nonlinear interactions between counter-propagating Alfvén waves. These current sheets form owing to the compression of elongated eddies, driven by the shear induced by growing higher-order modes, and undergo a thinning process until they break-up into small-scale turbulent structures. We explore the formation of current sheets both in overlapping waves and in localized wave packet collisions. The relativistic interaction of localized Alfvén waves induces both Alfvén waves and fast waves, and efficiently mediates the conversion and dissipation of electromagnetic energy in astrophysical systems. Plasma energization through reconnection in current sheets emerging during the interaction of Alfvén waves can potentially explain X-ray emission in black hole accretion coronae and neutron star magnetospheres. 
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  8. 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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