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Title: A laboratory study of asymmetric magnetic reconnection in strongly-driven plasmas

Magnetic reconnection, the annihilation and rearrangement of magnetic fields in a plasma, is a universal phenomenon that frequently occurs when plasmas carrying oppositely-directed field lines collide. In most natural circumstances the collision is asymmetric (the two plasmas having different properties), but laboratory research to date has been limited to symmetric configurations. Additionally, the regime of strongly-driven magnetic reconnection, where the ram pressure of the plasma dominates the magnetic pressure, as in several astrophysical environments, has also received little experimental attention. Thus, we have designed experiments to probe reconnection in asymmetric, strongly-driven, laser-generated plasmas. Here we show that, in this strongly-driven system, the rate of magnetic flux annihilation is dictated by the relative flow velocities of the opposing plasmas and is insensitive to initial asymmetries. Additionally, out-of-plane magnetic fields that arise from asymmetries in the three-dimensional plasma geometry have minimal impact on the reconnection rate, due to the strong flows.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [4] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [1]
  1. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States). Plasma Science and Fusion Center
  2. Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. (PPPL), Princeton, NJ (United States)
  3. Univ. of Rochester, NY (United States). Lab. for Laser Energetics
  4. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
NA0002035; NA0001857
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States). Plasma Science and Fusion Center
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States