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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.

Renowned physicist steps down from Theory Department leadership at PPPL to devote full time to teaching and research

When Amitava Bhattacharjee returned to his academic roots to head the Theory Department at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in 2012, the department had lacked stable leadership for several years and was nearing a funding crunch. Within a year of Bhattacharjee’s arrival, “the department had a budget crisis that forced us to institute a voluntary separation plan,” he said.

Renowned physicist steps down from Theory Department leadership at PPPL to devote full time to teaching and research

When Amitava Bhattacharjee returned to his academic roots to head the Theory Department at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in 2012, the department had lacked stable leadership for several years and was nearing a funding crunch. Within a year of Bhattacharjee’s arrival, “the department had a budget crisis that forced us to institute a voluntary separation plan,” he said.

New insights into behavior of ultra-dense star core

Scattered throughout the universe are unimaginably dense remnants of stellar death, cold cores of large stars that have burned through their fuel, collapsed, and blown off their outer layers in supernova explosions. Known as neutron stars, these exotic remnants are often gravitationally locked with another star and over time siphon off some of the other star’s outermost surfaces.

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.

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