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Title: Collisionless shock experiments with lasers and observation of Weibel instabilities

Astrophysical collisionless shocks are common in the universe, occurring in supernova remnants, gamma ray bursts, and protostellar jets. They appear in colliding plasma flows when the mean free path for ion-ion collisions is much larger than the system size. It is believed that such shocks could be mediated via the electromagnetic Weibel instability in astrophysical environments without preexisting magnetic fields. Here, we present laboratory experiments using high-power lasers and investigate the dynamics of high-Mach-number collisionless shock formation in two interpenetrating plasma streams. Our recent proton-probe experiments on Omega show the characteristic filamentary structures of the Weibel instability that are electromagnetic in nature with an inferred magnetization level as high as ~1% These results imply that electromagnetic instabilities are significant in the interaction of astrophysical conditions.
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  1. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (United States)
  3. Univ. of Rochester, NY (United States)
  4. Univ. of Oxford, Oxford (United Kingdom)
  5. LULI, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau (France)
  6. Lam Research Corporation, Fremont, CA (United States)
  7. Univ. of Chicago, Chicago, CA (United States)
  8. MIT (Massachusetts Inst. of Technology), Cambridge, MA (United States)
  9. Osaka Univ., Osaka (Japan)
  10. Princeton Univ., NJ (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physics of Plasmas
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 22; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 1070-664X
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Research Org:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY Weibel instability; collisionless shocks; astrophysical collisionless shocks; electromagnetic plasma instabilities