Discovering a previously unknown role for a source of magnetic fields

PhysicistsJackson Matteucci and Will Fox with poster showing their research study. Credit: Elle Starkman/ PPPL Office ofCommunications

Magnetic forces ripple throughout deep space, from the fields surrounding worlds to the gasses filling galaxies, and can be released by a phenomenon called the Biermann battery impact. Now researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have actually discovered that this phenomenon might not just create magnetic fields, however can sever them to set off magnetic reconnection–a amazing and unexpected discovery.

TheBiermann battery impact, a possible seed for the magnetic fields pervading our universe, occurs in plasmas– the state of matter made up of complimentary electrons and atomic nuclei– when the plasma temperature level and density are misaligned. The tops of such plasmas may be hotter than the bottoms, and the density may be higher on the left side than on the right. This misalignment generates an electromotive force that creates present that results in magneticfields The procedure is called for Ludwig Biermann, a German astrophysicist who found it in 1950.


Revealed through computer system simulations


The brand-new findings expose through computer system simulations a previously unknown role for the Biermann impact that might enhance understanding of reconnection– the snapping apart and violent reconnection of magnetic field lines in plasmas that generates northern lights, solar flares and geomagnetic space storms that can interfere with cell- phone service and electrical grids on Earth.


The outcomes “provide a new platform for replicating in the laboratory the reconnection observed in astrophysical plasmas,” stated Jackson Matteucci, a college student in the Program in Plasma Physics at PPPL and lead author of a description of the procedure in Physical ReviewLetters Coauthors of the paper include his thesis consultants, Will Fox of PPPL and Amitava Bhattacharjee, head of the PPPL Theory Department, and scientists from other labs.


The simulations designed released outcomes of experiments in China that studied high-energy-density (HED) plasma– matter under severe pressure such as exists in the core of theEarth The experiments, in which PPPL played no part, utilized lasers to blast a set of plasma bubbles from a strong metal target. Simulations of the three-dimensional plasma traced the growth of the bubbles and the magnetic fields that the Biermann impact produced, and tracked the accident of the fields to produce magnetic reconnection.


The simulations revealed that temperature level increased in the reconnecting field lines and reversed the role of the Biermann impact that came from the lines. Because of the spike, the Biermann impact ruined the magnetic field lines it had actually produced, cutting them like a set of scissors cutting a elastic band. The chopped fields then reconnected downstream, far from the initial reconnection point. “This is the first simulation to show Biermann battery-mediated magnetic reconnection,” Matteucci stated. “This process had never been known before.”


Tracking billions of ions and electrons


Modeling the HED experiments needed tracking billions of ions and electrons engaging with one another and with the electrical and magnetic fields that their movement produced, in what are called 3-D kinetic simulations. Researchers performed these simulations on the Titan supercomputer at the DOE Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


The researchers have actually given that designed a British experiment and are dealing with simulations of experiments carried out at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester and the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore NationalLaboratory

Explore even more:
No longer whistling in the dark: Scientists reveal source of bewildering waves.

More details:
J. Matteucci et al, Biermann-Battery-MediatedMagnetic Reconnection in 3D Colliding Plasmas, PhysicalReview Letters(2018). DOI: 10.1103/ PhysRevLett.121095001

Journal referral:

Provided by:
PrincetonPlasma PhysicsLaboratory

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