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Plasma astrophysics

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A field of physics that is growing in interest worldwide that tackles such astrophysical phenomena as the source of violent space weather and the formation of stars.

Stewart Prager

Stewart Prager was the sixth director of PPPL. He joined the Laboratory in 2009 after a long career at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. At Wisconsin, he led research on the “Madison Symmetric Torus” (MST) experiment and headed a center that studied plasmas in both the laboratory and the cosmos. He also co-discovered the “bootstrap current” there—a key finding that has influenced the design of today’s tokamaks. He earned his PhD in plasma physics from Columbia University.

PPPL and Princeton researchers propose an explanation for the mysterious onset of a universal process

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University have proposed a groundbreaking solution to a mystery that has puzzled physicists for decades. At issue is how magnetic reconnection, a universal process that sets off solar flares, northern lights and cosmic gamma-ray bursts, occurs so much faster than theory says should be possible.

PPPL and Princeton researchers propose an explanation for the mysterious onset of a universal process

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University have proposed a groundbreaking solution to a mystery that has puzzled physicists for decades. At issue is how magnetic reconnection, a universal process that sets off solar flares, northern lights and cosmic gamma-ray bursts, occurs so much faster than theory says should be possible.

Structure-preserving Geometric Algorithms & Exascale Computing

It is difficult for the standard numerical algorithms currently adopted by the plasma physics community to meet the long-term accuracy and fidelity requirement in large-scale numerical studies of multi-scale, complex dynamics of plasmas in space and laboratory. To overcome this difficulty, researchers have been actively developing a new generation of numerical algorithms that preserve the geometric structures, such as the symplectic structure, of theoretical models in plasma physics.

New books by PPPL physicists Hutch Neilson and Amitava Bhattacharjee highlight magnetic fusion energy and plasma physics

Magnetic fusion energy and the plasma physics that underlies it are the topics of ambitious new books by Hutch Neilson, head of the Advanced Projects Department at PPPL, and Amitava Bhattacharjee, head of the Theory Department at the Laboratory. The books describe where research on magnetic fusion energy comes from and where it is going, and provide a basic understanding of the physics of plasma, the fourth state of matter that makes up 99 percent of the visible universe.

New books by PPPL physicists Hutch Neilson and Amitava Bhattacharjee highlight magnetic fusion energy and plasma physics

Magnetic fusion energy and the plasma physics that underlies it are the topics of ambitious new books by Hutch Neilson, head of the Advanced Projects Department at PPPL, and Amitava Bhattacharjee, head of the Theory Department at the Laboratory. The books describe where research on magnetic fusion energy comes from and where it is going, and provide a basic understanding of the physics of plasma, the fourth state of matter that makes up 99 percent of the visible universe.

PPPL researchers combine quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of special relativity to clear up puzzles in plasma physics

Among the intriguing issues in plasma physics are those surrounding X-ray pulsars — collapsed stars that orbit around a cosmic companion and beam light at regular intervals, like lighthouses in the sky.  Physicists want to know the strength of the magnetic field and density of the plasma that surrounds these pulsars, which can be millions of times greater than the density of plasma in stars like the sun.

PPPL researchers combine quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of special relativity to clear up puzzles in plasma physics

Among the intriguing issues in plasma physics are those surrounding X-ray pulsars — collapsed stars that orbit around a cosmic companion and beam light at regular intervals, like lighthouses in the sky.  Physicists want to know the strength of the magnetic field and density of the plasma that surrounds these pulsars, which can be millions of times greater than the density of plasma in stars like the sun.

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