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How do you generate and amplify cosmic magnetic fields in the laboratory?

  • Shockwave + Grid:  Laser-produced shockwaves can generate seed fields due to misaligned density and temperature gradients, the Biermann battery mechanism. By placing a non-conducting grid in the plasma flow, Kolmogorov turbulence is generated while “frozen-in” magnetic fields begin to stretch, twist, and fold with the chaotic motions of the plasma.  Scaled to supernova remnant Cassiopeia A  (Nature Physics)
  • Colliding Jets:  Counter-propagating laser-produced plasma jets can generate much larger seed fields due to their highly asymmetrical shape, and therefore larger misaligned temperature and density gradients.  Under the right conditions, the collision of two jets can generate Kolmogorov turbulence and even larger magnetic field amplification.  Recreating the Coma Cluster in the laboratory (PNAS)
Shockwave + Grid Experiment using the Vulcan laser

What is it like to use the largest laser in the world?

Reddit AMA about using the National Ignition Facility to better understand the origins of magnetic fields.  Our group, named TDYNO (Turbulent Dynamo), was awarded “Discovery Science” time on the NIF to study non-programatic, laboratory astrophysics topics.

How do we recreate supernovas in the laboratory?

  • Science Channel Documentary featuring our experimental efforts using the Vulcan laser at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
  • Front Cover feature on BBC’s Sky at Night magazine “How to Make a Supernova”
Colliding Jets Experiment using the Vulcan laser