PPPL is developing a new and more powerful version of its world-leading Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX), which recreates one of the most common but least understood phenomena in the universe. This phenomenon, in which the magnetic field lines in plasma snap apart and violently reconnect, occurs throughout the cosmos and gives rise to the northern lights, solar flares and geomagnetic storms that can disrupt cell-phone service and black out power grids.
Magnetic reconnection (henceforth called "reconnection") refers to the breaking and reconnecting of oppositely directed magnetic field lines in a plasma. In the process, magnetic field energy is converted to plasma kinetic and thermal energy.
Researchers at Princeton University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have launched a new center to study the volatile heliosphere — a complex and frequently violent region of space that encompasses the solar system. This region is carved out by the solar wind — charged plasma particles that constantly stream from the sun — and gives rise to space weather that can disrupt cell phone service, damage satellites and knock out power grids.
More than 350 participants from around the world will gather in Plainsboro, N.J., on September 30 for the 66th Annual Gaseous Electronics Conference (GEC). The week-long event will bring together physicists from numerous plasma science disciplines for workshops, panels and poster sessions on topics ranging from basic research to uses for plasma in microchip etching, nano- material manufacturing and other technologies.
Mark your calendar and prepare to have some fun at The Princeton Plasma Physics Lab's Open House on June 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the Laboratory will open its doors for the public to see the National Spherical Torus Experiment and other research experiments. Come take a self-guided tour, take part in hands-on activities, watch demonstrations. Plans also include a moon rocks display from NASA, lectures on fusion by PPPL Director Stewart Prager, a cryogenics show, firefighting demonstrations and numerous other activities as well as refreshments and give-aways.
Magnetic reconnection is a phenomenon of nature in which magnetic field lines change their topology in plasma and convert magnetic energy to particles by acceleration and heating. It is one of the most fundamental processes at work in laboratory and astrophysical plasmas. Magnetic reconnection occurs everywhere: in solar flares; coronal mass ejections; the earth’s magnetosphere; in the star forming galaxies; and in plasma fusion devices.
Three teams led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have won major blocks of time on two of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Two of the projects seek to advance the development of nuclear fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy by improving understanding of the superhot, electrically charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions.
Masaaki Yamada is a Distinguished Laboratory Research Fellow and the Head of the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) research program. He is also a co- principal investigator of the Center for Magnetic Self-Organization in Laboratory and Astrophysical Plasmas, a Physics Frontier Center established by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
More than 70 researchers from around the world gathered at Princeton University May 23-25 for the 2012 U.S.-Japan Workshop on Magnetic Reconnection. PPPL physicist Hantao Ji chaired the international workshop, which was the twelfth since 1998 and the third to be held at Princeton. The event featured more than 55 papers, including two presented by Ji and Masaaki Yamada, who directs PPPL’s Magnetic Reconnection Experiment.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.
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