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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.

Space weather and solar blobs: Scientists receive funding to study conditions that can disrupt communications satellites

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have received more than $2 million from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to conduct research that could help predict the potentially damaging effects of blasts of subatomic particles from the sun.

New computer model helps bring the sun into the laboratory

Every day, the sun ejects large amounts of a hot particle soup known as plasma toward Earth where it can disrupt telecommunications satellites and damage electrical grids. Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University’s Department of Astrophysical Sciences have made a discovery that could lead to better predictions of this space weather and help safeguard sensitive infrastructure.

Scientists find clues to a process occurring throughout the universe that affects fusion energy

New research reveals a surprising insight into the physics behind magnetic reconnection, a process occurring through the universe that converts magnetic to kinetic energy. The findings, by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) together with other physicists, could lead to a greater ability to predict space weather — fast particles from the sun that can disrupt communications satellites and electrical networks.

Advisory Committee Releases Long-Range Plan for U.S. Fusion Energy Sciences Program

A subcommittee convened by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) to develop a long-range plan for FES has released its final report that lays out a strategic plan for fusion energy and plasma science research over the next decade. The report has been two years in the making, gathering an unprecedented level of input and support from across the diverse U.S. fusion energy and plasma sciences community. Its strategic plan charts a path for the U.S. as it seeks to develop fusion as a limitless and practical source of energy.

New findings could improve understanding of potentially damaging solar storms

When fast-moving particles from the sun strike the Earth’s magnetic field, they set off reactions that could disrupt communications satellites and power grids. Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have learned new details of this process that could lead to better forecasting of this so-called space weather.

Arecibo Observatory and PPPL – A Noble, and Nobel, History

The legendary radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico collapsed on Dec. 1, sending shock waves throughout the astronomy and astrophysics communities. The telescope, the world’s most powerful radar that was used by scientists for almost six decades to send beams to and receive signals from outer space to elucidate the ways of the universe, also is cemented in the history of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

PPPL presents discoveries and plays a prominent role at global physics gathering

Scientific discoveries, educational opportunities and wide-ranging events highlighted the 62nd American Physical Society-Division of Plasma Physics annual meeting, which attracted participants from around the world. The session this year, held virtually November 9 to  13, drew more than 150 physicists, engineers and students from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).


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Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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