Further information: On 21st June the Institute of Physics and Oxford University Physics Department will be hosting Dr. Jena Meinecke, Junior Research Fellow at Oxford University. Jena will report on the first experimental measurements of seed magnetic fields in laser-produced shock waves via the "Biermann battery" process.
Tea and coffee will be served from 18:30 with the talk beginning at 19:00.
The event is free and open to anyone with an interest, but registration is required in advance. Registration opens in 26th April.
The universe abounds with shock waves, from those arising during structure formation, to those driving supernova explosions that create the elements of which life is made and can even trigger star formation. In the early universe, matter was nearly homogeneously distributed; today, as a result of gravitational instabilities, it forms a web-like structure of clusters, filaments, and voids. The magnetic energy in these structures represents a sizeable component of the total cosmic energy budget, but the origin and distribution of magnetic fields are far from understood. The standard model for the origin of galactic and intergalactic magnetic fields is through the generation of small seed fields by some mechanism (e.g. Biermann battery) and the amplification of those seed fields via dynamo or turbulent processes to the level consistent with current observations.
Due to the advent of high-powered lasers, scaled astrophysical phenomena can be created in the laboratory – a supernova several parsecs in diameter can be scaled down to the size of a baseball. These laboratory plasmas are similar to plasmas in the universe in terms of localisation, heat conduction, viscosity, and radiation.