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  1. Abstract

    Using a hybrid-kinetic particle-in-cell simulation, we study the evolution of an expanding, collisionless, magnetized plasma in which strong Alfvénic turbulence is persistently driven. Temperature anisotropy generated adiabatically by the plasma expansion (and consequent decrease in the mean magnetic-field strength) gradually reduces the effective elasticity of the field lines, causing reductions in the linear frequency and residual energy of the Alfvénic fluctuations. In response, these fluctuations modify their interactions and spatial anisotropy to maintain a scale-by-scale “critical balance” between their characteristic linear and nonlinear frequencies. Eventually the plasma becomes unstable to kinetic firehose instabilities, which excite rapidly growing magnetic fluctuations at ion-Larmor scales. The consequent pitch-angle scattering of particles maintains the temperature anisotropy near marginal stability, even as the turbulent plasma continues to expand. The resulting evolution of parallel and perpendicular temperatures does not satisfy double-adiabatic conservation laws, but is described accurately by a simple model that includes anomalous scattering. Our results have implications for understanding the complex interplay between macro- and microscale physics in various hot, dilute, astrophysical plasmas, and offer predictions concerning power spectra, residual energy, ion-Larmor-scale spectral breaks, and non-Maxwellian features in ion distribution functions that may be tested by measurements taken in high-beta regions of the solar wind.

     
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  2. It has recently been demonstrated experimentally that a turbulent plasma created by the collision of two inhomogeneous, asymmetric, weakly magnetized, laser-produced plasma jets can generate strong stochastic magnetic fields via the small-scale turbulent dynamo mechanism, provided the magnetic Reynolds number of the plasma is sufficiently large. In this paper, we compare such a plasma with one arising from two pre-magnetized plasma jets whose creation is identical save for the addition of a strong external magnetic field imposed by a pulsed magnetic field generator. We investigate the differences between the two turbulent systems using a Thomson-scattering diagnostic, x-ray self-emission imaging, and proton radiography. The Thomson-scattering spectra and x-ray images suggest that the external magnetic field has a limited effect on the plasma dynamics in the experiment. Although the external magnetic field induces collimation of the flows in the colliding plasma jets and although the initial strengths of the magnetic fields arising from the interaction between the colliding jets are significantly larger as a result of the external field, the energies and morphologies of the stochastic magnetic fields post-amplification are indistinguishable. We conclude that, for turbulent laser-plasmas with supercritical magnetic Reynolds numbers, the dynamo-amplified magnetic fields are determined by the turbulent dynamics rather than the seed fields or modest changes in the initial flow dynamics of the plasma, a finding consistent with theoretical expectations and simulations of turbulent dynamos. 
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  3. It has recently been demonstrated experimentally that a turbulent plasma created by the collision of two inhomogeneous, asymmetric, weakly magnetized, laser-produced plasma jets can generate strong stochastic magnetic fields via the small-scale turbulent dynamo mechanism, provided the magnetic Reynolds number of the plasma is sufficiently large. In this paper, we compare such a plasma with one arising from two pre-magnetized plasma jets whose creation is identical save for the addition of a strong external magnetic field imposed by a pulsed magnetic field generator. We investigate the differences between the two turbulent systems using a Thomson-scattering diagnostic, x-ray selfemission imaging, and proton radiography. The Thomson-scattering spectra and x-ray images suggest that the external magnetic field has a limited effect on the plasma dynamics in the experiment. Although the external magnetic field induces collimation of the flows in the colliding plasma jets and although the initial strengths of the magnetic fields arising from the interaction between the colliding jets are significantly larger as a result of the external field, the energies and morphologies of the stochastic magnetic fields post-amplification are indistinguishable. We conclude that, for turbulent laser-plasmas with supercritical magnetic Reynolds numbers, the dynamo-amplified magnetic fields are determined by the turbulent dynamics rather than the seed fields or modest changes in the initial flow dynamics of the plasma, a finding consistent with theoretical expectations and simulations of turbulent dynamos. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0084345 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    We propose that pressure anisotropy causes weakly collisional turbulent plasmas to self-organize so as to resist changes in magnetic-field strength. We term this effect ‘magneto-immutability’ by analogy with incompressibility (resistance to changes in pressure). The effect is important when the pressure anisotropy becomes comparable to the magnetic pressure, suggesting that in collisionless, weakly magnetized (high- $\unicode[STIX]{x1D6FD}$ ) plasmas its dynamical relevance is similar to that of incompressibility. Simulations of magnetized turbulence using the weakly collisional Braginskii model show that magneto-immutable turbulence is surprisingly similar, in most statistical measures, to critically balanced magnetohydrodynamic turbulence. However, in order to minimize magnetic-field variation, the flow direction becomes more constrained than in magnetohydrodynamics, and the turbulence is more strongly dominated by magnetic energy (a non-zero ‘residual energy’). These effects represent key differences between pressure-anisotropic and fluid turbulence, and should be observable in the $\unicode[STIX]{x1D6FD}\gtrsim 1$ turbulent solar wind. 
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