Plasma Astrophysics

Plasma Astrophysics involves the study of magnetohydrodynamic and plasma processes in astrophysical systems such as the sun, stars, galaxies, magnetized coronae, and accretion disks around stars and black holes. Since 90% of the universe consists of plasma, it is a broad subject with a variety of parameter regimes. Important themes include the origin of magnetic fields (dynamos), MHD turbulence, MHD stability, magnetic reconnection, particle and flow acceleration, shocks, thermal conduction and cooling, and the production of observed radiation spectra. Much of the underlying physics is also important for fusion plasmas in complementary parameter regimes. Cross disciplinary study of these phenomena benefit both astrophysical and laboratory plasma science. Analytic, semi-analytic, and numerical studies are all used in the theoretical research in this area.

Spinning Black Holes and MCG-6-30-15

For more information, please contact Prof. Eric Blackman.

Images courtesy of NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day web site. Click each photo for detailed explanations.

Gamma-Ray Bursting
M87s Energetic Jet
Wings of a Butterfly Nebula
Sigmoids Predict Solar Eruptions