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Dynamics of Plasma Structures Interacting with External and Self-Generated Magnetic Fields


Yun, Gunsu Soonshin (2008) Dynamics of Plasma Structures Interacting with External and Self-Generated Magnetic Fields. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/9CMD-C377.


Plasmas interacting with external and self-generated magnetic fields often develop a long tubular structure of nearly uniform cross section. Such long collimated plasma tubes have been observed in a variety of contexts ranging from astrophysical plasma jets (1015–1022 m) to solar coronal loops (107–108 m). Remarkably, much smaller-sized plasmas (0.1–1 m) produced by the Caltech planar spheromak gun develop collimated structures bearing a striking resemblance to these natural plasma tubes. This thesis presents experimental observations of gun-produced plasma tubes that support a recently-proposed magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) pumping model as a universal collimation mechanism. For any flared flux tube carrying a finite axial current, the model predicts (i) magnetic pumping of plasma particles from a constricted region into a bulged region and (ii) tube collimation if the flow slows down at the bulged region, leading to accumulation of mass and thus concentrating the azimuthal magnetic flux frozen in the mass flow (i.e., increasing the pinch force). Time- and space-resolved spectroscopic measurements of gun-produced plasmas show (i) suprathermal Alfvenic flow (30–50 km/s), (ii) large density amplification from ~1017 to ~1022 m-3 in an Alfvenic time scale (5–10 µs), and (iii) flow slowing down and mass accumulation at the flow front, the place where the tube collimation occurs according to high-speed camera imaging. These observations are consistent with the predictions of the MHD pumping model, and thus the model offers valuable insight into the formation mechanism of laboratory, solar, and astrophysical plasma structures.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:MHD; plasma diagnostics; plasma gun; plasma jet; spheromak; Stark broadening
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Bellan, Paul Murray
Thesis Committee:
  • Bellan, Paul Murray (chair)
  • Meier, David L.
  • Polk, James E.
  • Shepherd, Joseph E.
  • Gould, Roy Walter
Defense Date:12 July 2007
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-07242007-162442
Persistent URL:
Yun, Gunsu Soonshin0000-0002-1880-5865
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:2979
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:07 Aug 2007
Last Modified:05 Feb 2020 00:55

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