. 24/7 Space News .
The world's largest turbulence simulation unmasks the flow of energy in astrophysical plasmas
by Staff Writers
Plainsboro NJ (SPX) Dec 27, 2022

Halo-like solar corona.

Researchers have uncovered a previously hidden heating process that helps explain how the atmosphere that surrounds the Sun called the "solar corona" can be vastly hotter than the solar surface that emits it.

The discovery at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) could improve tackling a range of astrophysical puzzles such as star formation, the origin of large-scale magnetic fields in the universe, and the ability to predict eruptive space weather events that can disrupt cell phone service and black out power grids on Earth. Understanding the heating process also has implications for fusion research.

"Our direct numerical simulation is the first to provide clear identification of this heating mechanism in 3D space," said Chuanfei Dong, a physicist at PPPL and Princeton University who unmasked the process by conducting 200 million hours of computer time for the world's largest simulation of its kind. "Current telescope and spacecraft instruments may not have high enough resolution to identify the process occurring at small scales," said Dong, who details the breakthrough in the journal Science Advances.

The hidden ingredient is a process called magnetic reconnection that separates and violently reconnects magnetic fields in plasma, the soup of electrons and atomic nuclei that forms the solar atmosphere. Dong's simulation revealed how rapid reconnection of the magnetic field lines turns the large-scale turbulent energy into small-sale internal energy. As a consequence the turbulent energy is efficiently converted to thermal energy at small scales, thus superheating the corona.

"Think of putting cream in coffee," Dong said. "The drops of cream soon become whorls and slender curls. Similarly, magnetic fields form thin sheets of electric current that break up due to magnetic reconnection. This process facilitates the energy cascade from large-scale to small-scale, making the process more efficient in the turbulent solar corona than previously thought."

When the reconnection process is slow while the turbulent cascade is fast, reconnection cannot affect the transfer of energy across scales, he said. But when the reconnection rate becomes fast enough to exceed the traditional cascade rate, reconnection can move the cascade toward small scales more efficiently.

It does this by breaking and rejoining the magnetic field lines to generate chains of small twisted lines called plasmoids. This changes the understanding of the turbulent energy cascade that has been widely accepted for more than half a century, the paper says. The new finding ties the energy transfer rate to how fast the plasmoids grow, enhancing the transfer of energy from large to small scales and strongly heating the corona at these scales.

The new discovery demonstrates a regime with an unprecedentedly large magnetic Reynolds number as in the solar corona. The large number characterizes the new high energy transfer rate of the turbulent cascade. "The higher the magnetic Reynolds number is, the more efficient the reconnection-driven energy transfer is," said Dong, who is moving to Boston University to take up a faculty position.

200 million hours

"Chuanfei has carried out the world's largest turbulence simulation of its kind that has taken over 200 million computer CPUs [central processing units] at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility," said PPPL physicist Amitava Bhattacharjee, a Princeton professor of astrophysical sciences who supervised the research. "This numerical experiment has produced undisputed evidence for the first time of a theoretically predicted mechanism for a previously undiscovered range of turbulent energy cascade controlled by the growth of the plasmoids.

"His paper in the high-impact journal Science Advances completes the computational program he began with his earlier 2D results published in Physical Review Letters. These papers form a coda to the impressive work that Chuanfei has done as a member of the Princeton Center for Heliophysics," a joint Princeton and PPPL facility. "We are grateful for a PPPL LDRD [Laboratory Directed Research and Development] grant that facilitated this work, and to the NASA High-End Computing (HEC) program for its generous allocation of computer time."

The impact of this finding in astrophysical systems across a range of scales can be explored with current and future spacecraft and telescopes. Unpacking the energy transfer process across scales will be crucial to solving key cosmic mysteries, the paper said.

Research Report:Reconnection-driven energy cascade in magnetohydrodynamic turbulence

Related Links
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Solar Science News at SpaceDaily

Thanks for being there;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5+ Billed Monthly

paypal only
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

Scientists develop low-cost system to measure space weather without leaving the ground
Nagoya, Japan (SPX) Dec 18, 2022
A research team from the Institute of Space-Earth Environmental Research (ISEE) at Nagoya University in Japan used a sensor manufactured by Aichi Steel Corporation to build a magneto-impedance sensor magnetometer (MIM) that measures variations in the Earth's geomagnetic field. Since geomagnetic fluctuations are closely related to phenomena taking place in outer space, researchers in upper atmospheric physics and space physics can use the MIM to determine the status of space weather from the ground witho ... read more

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Russia might send up rescue ship for ISS crew

NASA delays spacewalk because of debris

NASA, Russian space agency evaluate need for space station rescue mission

Russian space chief praises US after ISS coolant leak

Last SpaceX launch of 2022 carries Israeli reconnoissance satellite into orbit

Inauguration of mainland Europe's first satellite launch complex

Virgin Orbit' Launcherone Systems given green light for upcoming mission

Exploration power for the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

The 10 Days of Christmas: Sols 3689-3698

InSight goes silent as Martian dust and cold ends mission

NASA retires InSight Mars Lander

Christmas craterscape

Chinese space-tracking ship sets sail for new missions

China's space sector set to rocket into future

China's space station Tiangong enters new phase of application, development

China's new space station opens for business in an increasingly competitive era of space activity

Chinese commercial space company to launch stackable satellites

Iridium introduces its latest IoT data service

US space entities examine future space technology

Voyager Space signs MoU with Canadian Space Agency

Space junk bill passes Senate unanimously

NASA, Alaska researchers to scan asteroid with radio waves

Making the unimaginable possible in materials discovery

Elucidating the mechanism of high proton conduction to develop clean energy materials

What it would take to discover life on Saturn's icy moon Enceladus

Assembly begins on NASA's next tool to study exoplanets

Kepler's first exoplanet is spiraling toward its doom

Two exoplanets may be mostly water, Hubble and Spitzer find

Juno spacecraft recovering memory after 47th Flyby of Jupiter

Four decade study finds mysterious patterns in temperatures at Jupiter

Comet impacts could bring ingredients for life to Europa's ocean

Juno exploring Jovian moons during extended mission

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.