Physics Colloquium, "Laboratory Plasma Astrophysics: from Angular Momentum Transport to Magnetic Reconnection"

Presented by: Hantao Ji, Princeton University

Abstract: Studying astrophysical plasma processes in the lab becomes increasingly possible and exciting, complementing numerical simulations. In this talk, I will describe two examples of experimental efforts with which I am closely involved. The first one is about the mechanisms of rapid angular momentum transport required to explain the observed fast accretion, e.g,, enabling star formation and powering quasars. By carefully isolating effects due to artificial boundaries, key astrophysical questions regarding hydrodynamic and magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) instabilities can be uniquely studied in the laboratory. The second example is about the mechanisms of fast magnetic reconnection, considered to be at the core of the observed flares from various astrophysical objects including our Sun. Plasma physics beyond MHD has been identified as a key to fast reconnection in effectively small plasmas, while understanding how fast reconnection works in effectively large astrophysical plasmas is at the current frontier of research. Future prospects of this growing field of laboratory plasma astrophysics will be discussed.

Coffee, tea, and cookies will be available starting at 3:45 p.m., in DUAN G1B31.

Wednesday, January 30 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Duane Physics and Astrophysics, G1B20
2000 Colorado Avenue, Boulder, CO 80309

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