Experimental investigation of opacity models for stellar interior, inertial fusion, and high energy density plasmas

Bailey, J. E.; Rochau, G. A.; Mancini, R. C.; Iglesias, C. A.; MacFarlane, J. J.; Golovkin, I. E.; Blancard, C.; Cosse, Ph.; Faussurier, G.
May 2009
Physics of Plasmas;May2009, Vol. 16 Issue 5, p058101
Academic Journal
Theoretical opacities are required for calculating energy transport in plasmas. In particular, understanding stellar interiors, inertial fusion, and Z pinches depends on the opacities of mid-atomic-number elements over a wide range of temperatures. The 150–300 eV temperature range is particularly interesting. The opacity models are complex and experimental validation is crucial. For example, solar models presently disagree with helioseismology and one possible explanation is inadequate theoretical opacities. Testing these opacities requires well-characterized plasmas at temperatures high enough to produce the ion charge states that exist in the sun. Typical opacity experiments heat a sample using x rays and measure the spectrally resolved transmission with a backlight. The difficulty grows as the temperature increases because the heating x-ray source must supply more energy and the backlight must be bright enough to overwhelm the plasma self-emission. These problems can be overcome with the new generation of high energy density (HED) facilities. For example, recent experiments at Sandia’s Z facility [M. K. Matzen et al., Phys. Plasmas 12, 055503 (2005)] measured the transmission of a mixed Mg and Fe plasma heated to 156±6 eV. This capability will also advance opacity science for other HED plasmas. This tutorial reviews experimental methods for testing opacity models, including experiment design, transmission measurement methods, accuracy evaluation, and plasma diagnostics. The solar interior serves as a focal problem and Z facility experiments illustrate the techniques.


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