Developed turbulence and nonlinear amplification of magnetic fields in laboratory and astrophysical plasmas

Jena Meinecke, Petros Tzeferacos, Anthony Bell, Robert Bingham, Robert Clarke, Eugene Churazov, Robert Crowston, Hugo Doyle, R. Paul Drake, Robert Heathcote, Michel Koenig, Yasuhiro Kuramitsu, Carolyn Kuranz, Dongwook Lee, Michael MacDonald, Christopher Murphy, Margaret Notley, Hye-Sook Park, Alexander Pelka, Alessandra RavasioBrian Reville, Youichi Sakawa, Willow Wan, Nigel Woolsey, Roman Yurchak, Francesco Miniati, Alexander Schekochihin, Don Lamb, Gianluca Gregori

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The visible matter in the universe is turbulent and magnetized. Turbulence in galaxy clusters is produced by mergers and by jets of the central galaxies and believed responsible for the amplification of magnetic fields. We report on experiments looking at the collision of two laser-produced plasma clouds, mimicking, in the laboratory, a cluster merger event. By measuring the spectrum of the density fluctuations, we infer developed, Kolmogorov-like turbulence. From spectral line broadening, we estimate a level of turbulence consistent with turbulent heating balancing radiative cooling, as it likely does in galaxy clusters. We show that the magnetic field is amplified by turbulent motions, reaching a nonlinear regime that is a precursor to turbulent dynamo. Thus, our experiment provides a promising platform for understanding the structure of turbulence and the amplification of magnetic fields in the universe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8211-8215
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number27
Early online date22 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2015


  • galaxy clusters
  • laboratory analogues
  • lasers
  • magnetic fields
  • turbulence
  • magnetic field amplification

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