October 5, 2012
Order Can Emerge From Chaos In The Cosmos, Study Finds
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Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Researchers' discovery of self-organized electromagnetic fields in counter-streaming ionized gases is paving the way for scientists to have new ways to explore how order can emerge from chaos in the universe.
"We've created a model for exploring how electromagnetic fields help organize ionized gas or plasma in astrophysical settings, such as in the plasma flows that emerge from young stars," said lead author Nathan Kugland, a postdoctoral researcher in the High Energy Density Science Group at LLNL.
He said these fields helped to shape the flows, and could play a supporting role alongside gravity in the formation of solar systems. This means it could have also eventually lead to the creation of planets like Earth.
Hye-Sook Park, team leader and staff physicist at LLNL, said the observations were completely unexpected, because plasmas move so quickly they should freely stream past each other.
The laser-driven plasma experiments can study the microphysics of plasma interaction and structure formation under controlled conditions, according to Park.
Using laboratory instruments to study astrophysics can help answer questions about astrophysical objects that are beyond the reach of measurements.
Astrophysical Collisionless Shock Experiments with Lasers (ACSEL) are helping to carry out the research alongside LLNL, with help also coming from Princeton University, Osaka University and Oxford University.
The LDRD program and the International Collaboration for High Energy Density Science (ICHEDS) helped provide additional support for the project.
The research leading to the results received funding from the European Research Council under the European Community's Seventh Framework Program.