High-Energy-Density Astrophysics in the Laboratory


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  • Speaker: Mario Manuel (U-M AOSS)
  • Host Department: Physics
  • Date: 04/17/2014
  • Time: 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

  • Location: 807 Dennison Building

  • Description:

    Laboratory astrophysics is the colloquial term for experimental work
    performed in the lab motivated by astrophysical questions. In general,
    this type of work complements observational and numerical astronomy;
    from spectroscopic studies, to astrochemistry, to high energy physics,
    and others. It is the high-energy-density (HED) environments, or systems
    with pressures >1Mbar, that I am interested in exploring. I will discuss
    a number of HED topics currently being pursued by myself and colleagues
    at the University of Michigan, as well as fellow scientists and
    collaborators at other institutions.

    High-power-laser facilities provide an unique opportunity to explore the
    HED regime in a controlled and diagnosable manner. Much of the
    infrastructure for these facilities is provided by the inertial
    confinement fusion (ICF) program being pursued around the world. I will
    touch briefly on the basics of ICF and demonstrate how this leads
    directly to the use of these facilities for basic plasma nuclear
    science. As stellar energy is created in HED plasma, the controlled
    study of these nuclear reaction can lead to a better understanding of
    the system as a whole.

    These laboratory systems can be directly scalable to a specific
    astrophysical object when specific similarity conditions hold. I will
    discuss the theory behind these criteria and provide a well-scaled
    experiment that investigated Rayleigh-Taylor growth in core-collapse
    supernovae. Much work goes into developing this kind of platform, where
    a well-scaled experiment may be performed with respect to a specific
    object of interest. In many cases, however, direct scaling is not
    possible. Rather, achievement of specific dimensionless parameters in
    the lab is required to reach a relevant physics regime and measurements
    of these systems may be used as benchmarks for astrophysical codes. I
    will discuss a number of experimental platforms currently under
    development to investigate: the formation of collisionless shocks and
    the role of self-generated magnetic fields, the dynamics and evolution
    of supersonic magnetized jets, and the production of relativistic
    electron-positron jets.


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    Astronomy Colloquia listings for Winter 2014.