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Magnetic Reconnection, Turbulence, and Particle Acceleration – What We Have Learned from MMS and Will Learn from Parker Solar Probe

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Monday, September 17, 2018 - 4:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • JILA Auditorium

Speaker Name(s): 

Bob Ergun

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

CU Boulder
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences Colloquia

Event Details & Abstract: 

Refreshments served 30 minutes prior to start of talk in front of the JILA Auditorium. 

Magnetic reconnection, plasma turbulence, and charged particle acceleration are arguably among the most important plasma processes in astrophysics. Magnetic reconnection is a process that enables a change of topology of magnetic fields in plasmas and, in doing so, can violently convert magnetic energy into particle acceleration and incite turbulence. It is known to dramatically impact the behavior of the solar corona and is often cited as the root cause for solar flares and coronal mass ejections. Due to its explosive nature, magnetic reconnection is thought to be active in relativistic jets and in accretion disks and may be the source of highenergy emissions and particle acceleration. Closer to home, reconnection in the Earth’s magnetotail is understood to trigger magnetic substorms causing spectacular aurorae in our Northern and Southern skies. Magnetic reconnection and turbulence are key problems that have delayed fusion power by causing saw tooth crashes in tokamaks. The Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS), launched in 2015, is designed to investigate the physics of magnetic reconnection, plasma turbulence, and charged particle acceleration with insitu observations. With improved time resolution (100 times faster than previous missions), improved accuracy, and four satellites to measure in 3D, MMS has uncovered the electron-scale kinetic physics that enables reconnection. It has shown that turbulence and particle acceleration are strongly connected to reconnection; reconnection often results in turbulence and turbulence often results in further reconnection. The Parker Solar Probe, launched one month ago, is on its way to touch the solar corona at a distance of 10 solar radii. The focus is to understand stellar winds, turbulence, and plasma processes of the outer corona via in-situ observations. MMS and Parker Solar Probe promise a leap in our understanding of plasma astrophysics.

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