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Physicists create stable and strongly magnetized plasma jets in the laboratory.

Physicists create stable and strongly magnetized plasma jets in the laboratory.

Physical of the PPPL Lan Gao Credit: Elle Starkman

When you look at the night sky, much of what you see is plasma, a thick amalgam of ultra-warm atomic particles. The study of plasma in stars and various forms in outer space requires a telescope, but scientists can recreate it in the laboratory to examine it more closely.

Now, a team of scientists led by physicists Lan Gao of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (DOE) of the US Department of Energy. UU And Edison Liang of Rice University, has for the first time created a particular form of coherent and magnetized plasma jet that could deepen the understanding of the operation of much larger jets that flow from newborn stars and possibly from black holes, stellar objects so mbadive that trap light and deform space and time.

"We are now creating stable, supersonic and strongly magnetized plasma jets in a laboratory that will allow us to study astrophysical objects light years away," said astrophysicist Liang, co-author of the document reporting the results in the Letters from the astrophysical magazine.

The team created the reactors using the OMEGA laser installation at the Laser Laboratory for the University of Rochester. The researchers targeted 20 of OMEGA's individual laser beams to a ring-shaped area on a plastic lens. Each laser created a small puff of plasma; as the puffs expanded, they pressed on the inner region of the ring. That pressure then squeezed a plasma jet that reached more than four millimeters in length and created a magnetic field that had a force of more than 100 tesla.

"This is the first step to study the plasma jets in a laboratory," said Gao, who was the lead author of the article. "I'm excited because we not only create a jet, we also successfully use advanced diagnostics in OMEGA to confirm the formation of the jet and characterize its properties."

The diagnostic tools, developed with LLE equipment and the Mbadachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), measured density, temperature, jet length, how well it stayed together as it grew through space and form. of the magnetic field that surrounds it. The measurements help scientists determine how laboratory phenomena compare with jets in outer space. They also provide a baseline with which scientists can play to observe how plasma behaves under different conditions.

"This is ground-breaking research because no other team has successfully launched a narrow beam supersonic jet that carries such a strong magnetic field, which extends to significant distances," said Liang. "This is the first time that scientists have shown that the magnetic field not only surrounds the jet, but also extends parallel to the axis of the jet," he said.

The researchers hope to expand their research with larger laser facilities and investigate other types of phenomena. "The next step is to see if an external magnetic field could make the jet longer and collimated," Gao said.

"We would also like to replicate the experiment using the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which has 192 laser beams, half of which could be used to create our plasma ring, it would have a larger radius, and therefore , it would produce a longer jet than the one produced with OMEGA, this process would help us determine in which conditions the plasma jet is stronger. "

Macroscopic phenomena governed by microscopic physics.

More information:
L. Gao et al, Creation of Mega-Gauss plasma jet using a laser ring, The astrophysical diary (2019). DOI: 10.3847 / 2041-8213 / ab07bd

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Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Physicists create stable and strongly magnetized plasma jets in the laboratory (2019, May 31)
recovered on May 31, 2019
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