Lab Astrophysics and High Energy Densities
Creating and probing extreme conditions with high power lasers
- Type: Experimental, with some simulations
High power lasers can be used to create extreme conditions in the laboratory that are usually only found in extreme astrophysical environments. Using short-pulse high power lasers my research group is trying to create matter at temperatures and densities usually only found in the centre of stars and gas giant planets and use ultra-short flashes of X-rays to probe these; we can collide laser accelerated electron beams with high power lasers to measure the effects of very strong electromagnetic fields that can occur on the surface of quasars; and we are attempting to make X-ray fields that are so dense that photon-photon collisions, producing matter out of pure energy, something that can occur with intense gamma ray beams produced by massive compact objects. By recreating and characterising such extreme conditions in the laboratory, we hope to increase our understanding of extreme astrophysical environments.
- Funding: 3,5 years fully funded via ERC grant (Home/EU students only)
For more information please contact Stuart Mangles.
Modelling the effects of radiation and magnetic fields on shocks and turbulent flows in laboratory astrophysics experiments
Shocks and transition to turbulence in magnetized high density plasmas
Type: Experimental, including development of diagnostics
Shock waves are important feature of many magnetised plasmas in astrophysics, in space plasmas and in laboratory plasmas relevant to Inertial Confinement Fusion research. We are recruiting a student to join our experimental team working on the 1.4MA MAGPIE pulsed power facility at Imperial College. The PhD project will be focused on the studies of the shock waves formed in the interaction of supersonic plasma flows with various obstacles. Of particular interest will be investigations of the development of instabilities in the shocks, in conditions scalable to astrophysical shocks. The project could also involve studies of the development of turbulence in rotating plasmas. Work will involve modification of the already existing experimental set-ups, designing appropriate targets allowing quantitative characterisation of the shocks, and designing and testing of new experimental configurations. The project will also involve the development and implementation of advanced plasma diagnostics, such as Thomson scattering, interferometry, optical and x-ray imaging and spectroscopy and X-ray radiography.
G. C. Burdiak et al., Physics of Plasmas 24, 072713 (2017).
J.D. Hare et al., Physical Review Letters 118, p. 085001 (2017)
Funding: Departmental studentship (pending)
Supervisor: Sergey Lebedev