Laboratory astrophysics: Quantifying magnetic mechanisms for generating flows and shocks

Magnus Haw (Caltech)
February 16, 2018 - 12:15pm


Laboratory astrophysics emerged as a novel way to test models of distant or inaccessible astrophysical objects. In this field, models of astrophysical plasmas are recreated in lab with equivalent dimensionless parameters in a similar fashion to airplane models in wind tunnels. This technique has been applied to astrophysical jets, solar prominences, and the Earth’s magnetosphere. In many cases, these plasma experiments observe phenomena not seen in numerical simulations and can provide a rigorous test for proposed mechanisms. This talk will highlight the discovery of new magnetic mechanisms for generating flows and shocks through a combination of experiments, comparative simulations, and analytic theory. These new mechanisms reveal the limitations of previous hydrodynamic models and identify the importance of the magnetic field.