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Event Number 2612

  Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Plasma Physics (Physics/ECE/NE 922) Seminar
Studying Fast Magnetic Reconnection with Laboratory Plasmas
Time: 12:00 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin
Speaker: William Fox, University of New Hampshire
Abstract: Magnetic reconnection is a ubiquitous plasma process which controls the dynamics of magnetic fields a number of plasma systems, allowing the release of magnetic energy which powers solar flares and magnetospheric substorms, and also which allows instabilities in magnetized fusion devices to quickly transport plasma out of the core of the device. In this talk I will discuss two sets of experiments studying magnetic reconnection in laboratory plasmas. First, I will discuss the Versatile Toroidal Facility (VTF) experiment at MIT, a basic laboratory experiment which studies magnetic reconnection in the regime of a strong toroidal "guide" field, and specifically my work studying current-driven instabilities driven by reconnection events. In the second set of experiments, I will discuss my recent work to understand magnetic reconnection experiments conducted on inertial-fusion-class laser-facilities. This is a novel regime for magnetic reconnection study, characterized by extremely high magnetic fields, high plasma beta and strong, super-Alfvenic plasma inflow. Work to-date with particle-in-cell simulations has identified two key ingredients for explaining the fast observed rates of reconnection: two-fluid reconnection mediated by collisionless effects (the Hall current and electron pressure tensor), and strong flux-pileup of the inflowing magnetic field. I will close with a discussion of our new proposals for upcoming laser-driven reconnection experiments using this new platform.
Host: Cary Forest
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