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Recreating supernovas with large lasers

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19:00 – 20:00 16 Jun 2016
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Room A003,
Ellison Building,
University of Northumbria,

Speakers: Jena Meinecke

An international collaboration* lead by the University of Oxford, the University of
Chicago, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, hopes to
demonstrate turbulent dynamo — the “holy grail” of laboratory astrophysics. 
The first set of shots are scheduled for 1st of August 2016 using the National
Ignition Facility, the largest laser on Earth, to recreate scaled astrophysical
conditions and answer the question:  What is the origin of magnetic fields in our
universe?  The universe is ubiquitously magnetised—from clusters to filaments
and even voids – but  the origin of these fields is still unknown. The standard
model for the origin and distribution of galactic and intergalactic magnetic fields
is through the generation of small seed fields and amplification of those fields
through dynamo or turbulent processes to the level observed today.  Previous
work done by the collaboration demonstrated that “seed” magnetic fields can be
generated by misaligned density and temperature gradients in laser-produced
shockwaves.  When scaled to the Universe, these
fields were too small (10^-21 G) to explain the much  larger fields observed in
galaxy clusters.  It was subsequently shown that “seed” magnetic fields can be
further amplified by turbulent motions, but, short of dynamo, such amplification remained modest. To
amplify fields to the level observed today, a final mechanism needs to be at play
— turbulent dynamo, a fast (exponential) growth of magnetic energy at the
expense of fluid motions.  The team was awarded Discovery Science shots in
December 2014 and has been preparing over the last year for their first shot day.
*University of Oxford, University of Chicago, LLNL, LANL, MIT, ETH, Queen’s
University Belfast, LLE, LULI, CEA, Osaka, Princeton, SLAC, UNIST, and RAL.

Personal bio:
Jena Meinecke is a laboratory astrophysicist studying the origins of magnetic
fields. Using high-energy lasers such as the National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser,
she recreates astrophysical objects in the laboratory such as supernovas–
centimetres rather than parsecs in diameter. This allows her to study
phenomena that develops over hundreds, thousands, even millions of years
within a few microseconds. In particular, Jena focuses on the generation and
amplification of magnetic fields by both the Biermann battery mechanism and
turbulence, respectively.

Event type: Lecture/Talk
Organised by: Institute of Physics North East
Contact details: Richard Hornby

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Room A003,
Ellison Building,
University of Northumbria,
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19:00 – 20:00 16 Jun 2016
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