What is the origin of magnetic fields in our universe?
Using the largest laser on Earth, the National Ignition Facility, we can recreate powerful astrophysical events such as supernovas in the laboratory to evince turbulent dynamo– a phenomenon that explains the ubiquitous magnetisation of the universe.
We have experimentally shown that scaled protogalactic magnetic fields can be generated in a laser-produced shockwave and then amplified with turbulent motions to explain field structures found in Cassiopeia A and the Coma galaxy cluster. For exceptionally hot, collisional plasmas, we can even amplify fields towards equipartition of kinetic and magnetic energy– turbulent dynamo.
Why are cosmic magnetic fields important?
Magnetic fields are like the invisible glue that helps keep objects in the universe together. For instance, the large fields associated with galaxy clusters play a role in the formation of compact objects such as stars and galaxies.