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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.

A shock to behold: Earthbound scientists complement space missions by reproducing the dynamics behind astronomical shocks

High-energy shock waves driven by solar flares and coronal mass ejections of plasma from the sun erupt throughout the solar system, unleashing magnetic space storms that can damage satellites, disrupt cell phone service and blackout power grids on Earth. Also driving high-energy waves is the solar wind — plasma that constantly flows from the sun and buffets the Earth’s protective magnetic field.

Now experiments led by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in the Princeton Center for Heliophysics 

Small but mighty: A mini plasma-powered satellite now under construction may launch a new era in space exploration

A tiny satellite under construction at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) could open new horizons in space exploration.  Princeton University students are building the device, called a cubic satellite, or CubeSat, as a testbed for a miniaturized rocket thruster with unique capabilities being developed at PPPL.

Small but mighty: A mini plasma-powered satellite now under construction may launch a new era in space exploration

A tiny satellite under construction at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) could open new horizons in space exploration.  Princeton University students are building the device, called a cubic satellite, or CubeSat, as a testbed for a miniaturized rocket thruster with unique capabilities being developed at PPPL.

Scientists deepen understanding of the magnetic fields that surround the Earth and other planets

Vast rings of electrically charged particles encircle the Earth and other planets. Now, a team of scientists has completed research into waves that travel through this magnetic, electrically charged environment, known as the magnetosphere, deepening understanding of the region and its interaction with our own planet, and opening up new ways to study other planets across the galaxy.

Scientists deepen understanding of the magnetic fields that surround the Earth and other planets

Vast rings of electrically charged particles encircle the Earth and other planets. Now, a team of scientists has completed research into waves that travel through this magnetic, electrically charged environment, known as the magnetosphere, deepening understanding of the region and its interaction with our own planet, and opening up new ways to study other planets across the galaxy.

Will Fox wins 2019 Thomas H. Stix Award for early career contributions to plasma physics

Leadership of laboratory experiments that bring astrophysical processes down to Earth has won physicist Will Fox the 2019 Thomas H. Stix Award.  The American Physical Society (APS) honor, which recognizes outstanding early career contributions to plasma physics, was established in 2013 in the name of the late Thomas H. Stix, the pioneering plasma researcher who founded the graduate plasma physics program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

Original and seminal experiments

Will Fox wins 2019 Thomas H. Stix Award for early career contributions to plasma physics

Leadership of laboratory experiments that bring astrophysical processes down to Earth has won physicist Will Fox the 2019 Thomas H. Stix Award.  The American Physical Society (APS) honor, which recognizes outstanding early career contributions to plasma physics, was established in 2013 in the name of the late Thomas H. Stix, the pioneering plasma researcher who founded the graduate plasma physics program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

Original and seminal experiments

Advances in plasma and fusion science over the past year are described in Quest, PPPL’s annual research magazine

From helping the nation’s power grid to advancing the creation of “a star in a jar” for a virtually endless supply of electric power, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed insights and discoveries over the past year that advance understanding of the universe and the prospect for safe, clean, and abundant energy.

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