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Have Process, Will Travel: Adventures in Plasma Astrophysics

Colloquium: Astronomy Colloquia | September 26 | 4:10 p.m. | 2 LeConte Hall


Anatoly Spitkovsky, Princeton

Department of Astronomy


As plasmas underly most of astrophysical phenomena, understanding how the relevant plasma processes operate in detail can, in principle, provide powerful constraints on astrophysical models. In practice, such applications have been non-trivial due to the disparity of scales between plasma microphysics and astronomical environments. I will present several examples of situations where the intrinsically microscopic physics has a direct imprint on the macroscopic observables, and show how the improved models of plasma physics can guide the development of astronomical scenarios. Examples will be drawn from particle acceleration in collisionless shocks, relativistic reconnection in pulsars and jets, and from laboratory astrophysics experiments with ultra-intense lasers.


rhelgens@astro.berkeley.edu, 510-642-5275