The Madison Plasma Dynamo Experiment: a Laboratory for Astrophysics
American Astronomical Society, AAS Meeting #220, #211.02
Published in May 2012
Plasma experiments in laboratory settings offer the opportunity to address fundamental aspects of the solar dynamo, magnetism in solar and stellar atmospheres, and instabilities that may play important roles in astrophysical systems. The newly constructed Madison Plasma Dynamo Experiment (MPDX) Is a platform for investigating the self-generation of magnetic fields and related processes in large, weakly magnetized, fast flowing, and hot (conducting) plasmas. Planned experiments will probe questions that are of crucial importance to heliophysics in the solar interior, atmosphere and wind. These include studying large and small scale dynamos, varying between laminar and turbulent regimes, studying stratified convection and magnetic buoyancy instabilities, and studying dissipation processes in collisionless plasmas. In addition, MPDX will allow us to study the basic physical processes underlying magnetic reconnection and flares in the solar atmosphere, the nature of CMEs, and the interactions between planetary magnetospheres and the solar wind. Results from these experiments will create the benchmarks necessary for validating heliospheric codes used to mode our Sun and forecast solar activity. Laboratory plasma experiments are likely to contribute new understanding complementary to the traditional observational and modeling approach normally used by space physicists.
(c) 2012: American Astronomical Society