Astrophysical plasmas

Astrophysical plasmas are plasmas that occur in space. This includes the plasma that makes up stars. The Sun is constantly emitting a plasma known as the solar wind, which can affect satellites in orbit around the Earth and create aurora. Plasma is also found in interstellar space.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research | | open

    Various physical mechanisms are proposed to explain the heating observed in turbulent astrophysical plasmas. Here, Chen et al. find a signature consistent with one of these mechanisms, electron Landau damping, by applying a field-particle correlation technique to in situ spacecraft data of turbulence in the Earth’s magnetosheath.

    • C. H. K. Chen
    • , K. G. Klein
    •  & G. G. Howes
  • Research | | open

    Surface waves on the boundary between a magnetosphere and the surrounding plasma might get trapped by the ionosphere forming an eigenmode. Here, Archer et al. show direct observations of this proposed mechanism at Earth’s magnetosphere by analyzing the response to an isolated fast plasma jet detected by the THEMIS satellites.

    • M. O. Archer
    • , H. Hietala
    • , M. D. Hartinger
    • , F. Plaschke
    •  & V. Angelopoulos
  • Research |

    Observations reveal that electrons in Earth’s outer radiation belt possess a spectrum that partially rises with increasing energy, contrary to common beliefs. Plasma hiss waves scattered off electrons are found to be the origin of this phenomenon.

    • H. Zhao
    • , B. Ni
    • , X. Li
    • , D. N. Baker
    • , W. R. Johnston
    • , W. Zhang
    • , Z. Xiang
    • , X. Gu
    • , A. N. Jaynes
    • , S. G. Kanekal
    • , J. B. Blake
    • , S. G. Claudepierre
    • , M. A. Temerin
    • , H. O. Funsten
    • , G. D. Reeves
    •  & A. J. Boyd
  • Research |

    Using SN 1987A as a cosmic laboratory, Miceli et al. have measured the shock acceleration of ions heavier than oxygen, finding that the post-shock temperature of a wide range of ions is mass dependent.

    • Marco Miceli
    • , Salvatore Orlando
    • , David N. Burrows
    • , Kari A. Frank
    • , Costanza Argiroffi
    • , Fabio Reale
    • , Giovanni Peres
    • , Oleh Petruk
    •  & Fabrizio Bocchino
  • Research | | open

    Magnetorotational Instability (MRI) has long been considered a possible mechanism to transport angular momentum allowing fast accretion in astrophysical objects, but its standard form with a vertical magnetic field has never been experimentally verified. The authors present an experimental demonstration of a spring-mass analogue of the standard MRI using water as working fluid and a spring to mimic the action of magnetic fields.

    • Derek M. H. Hung
    • , Eric G. Blackman
    • , Kyle J. Caspary
    • , Erik P. Gilson
    •  & Hantao Ji

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