Physicist’s 50-Year-Old Magnetic Structure Prediction Evidenced at Surprisingly Large Scales

Ion Radiography Weibel Instability

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Protons sped up by laser-plasma interaction in a very first target (left) travel through a 2nd target, itself irradiated by another laser beam (middle and framed). The Weibel instability caused there by energetic electrons (blue trajectories) creates magnetic variations that deflect the protons onto a series of delicate movies (right), producing a picture of the resulting magnetic structures. Credit: David Tordeux

Imaging Magnetic Instabilities Using Laser Accelerated Protons

An worldwide group of scientists highlighted 2 versions of Weibel’s instability.

The magnetic structures arising from a plasma instability forecasted by the physicist Erich Weibel about 50 years back has actually been evidenced at remarkably big scales in a laser-driven plasma in the prominent journal Nature Physics. This instability is likewise anticipated to run in astrophysical settings where it is delegated the velocity of cosmic rays and the emission of gamma photons in the popular “gamma-ray bursts.”

Julien Fuchs, a graduate of the Institut nationwide de la recherche scientifique (INRS) and a scientist at the Laboratoire put l’utilisation des lasers intenses (LULI) in France, INRS Professor Patrizio Antici, an expert in laser-driven particle velocity, and INRS Professor Emeritus Henri Pépin have actually prospered in determining the electromagnetic fields produced by Weibel instabilities within a laser-driven plasma, an ionized gas. Their outcomes were released on June 1, 2020, in the prominent journal Nature Physics.

The scientists utilized the proton radiography strategy to envision this very quick phenomenon. “Our protons accelerated by laser-plasma interaction are able to take a sequence of images of very fast electromagnetic phenomena, lasting a few picoseconds only and with a resolution of a few microns. This allows us to probe instabilities with precision unmatched by other imaging techniques” reports Patrizio Antici, who did his thesis under the guidance of Professor Fuchs, himself previously under the instructions of Professor Pépin.

Patrizio Antici, INRS

INRS Professor Patrizio Antici, an expert in laser-driven particle velocity. Credit: INRS

These 3 generations of scientists recreated a “small-scale model” of astrophysical phenomena in the lab by irradiating a target with an extreme laser. The magnetic variations produced by the interaction can be penetrated by protons on a series of delicate movies, producing a series of images revealing the temporal development of the magnetic structures.

The analysis and modeling of these structures were carried out by Laurent Gremillet and Charles Ruyer, physicists at the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies options (CEA). After a number of years of effort, integrating theoretical modeling and advanced mathematical simulations, they highlighted the development of 2 versions of the Weibel instability according to the area of the plasma where they establish.

With more effective lasers, scientists will have the ability to replicate and examine much more severe astrophysical phenomena with unequaled resolution.

Reference: “Growth of concomitant laser-driven collisionless and resistive electron filamentation instabilities over large spatiotemporal scales” by C. Ruyer, S. Bolaños, B. Albertazzi, S. N. Chen, P. Antici, J. Böker, V. Dervieux, L. Lancia, M. Nakatsutsumi, L. Romagnani, R. Shepherd, M. Swantusch, M. Borghesi, O. Willi, H. Pépin, M. Starodubtsev, M. Grech, C. Riconda, L. Gremillet and J. Fuchs, 1 June 2020, Nature Physics.
DOI: 10.1038/s41567-020-0913-x

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