Bow shocks in ablated plasma streams for nested wire array z-pinches: A laboratory astrophysics testbed for radiatively cooled shocks

Ampleford, D. J.; Jennings, C. A.; Hall, G. N.; Lebedev, S. V.; Bland, S. N.; Bott, S. C.; Suzuki-Vidal, F.; Palmer, J. B. A.; Chittenden, J. P.; Cuneo, M. E.; Frank, A.; Blackman, E. G.; Ciardi, A.
May 2010
Physics of Plasmas;May2010, Vol. 17 Issue 5, p056315
Academic Journal
Astrophysical observations have demonstrated many examples of bow shocks, for example, the head of protostellar jets or supernova remnants passing through the interstellar medium or between discrete clumps in jets. For such systems where supersonic and super-Alfvénic flows and radiative cooling are all important, carefully scaled laboratory experiments can add insight into the physical processes involved. The early stage of a wire array z-pinch implosion consists of the steady ablation of material from fine metallic wires. Ablated material is accelerated toward the array axis by the J×B force. This flow is highly supersonic (M>5) and becomes super-Alfvénic (MA>2). Radiative cooling is significant in this flow and can be controlled by varying the material in the ablated plasma. The introduction of wires as obstructions in this steady flow leads to the formation of bow shocks, which can be used as a laboratory testbed for astrophysical bow shocks. The magnetic field associated with this obstruction wire can be controlled by varying the current through it. Differences in the shock for different cooling rates and different magnetic fields associated with the obstruction will be discussed, along with comparisons of dimensionless parameters in the experiments to astrophysical systems.


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