Astrophysics’ Denis St-Onge and Matthew Kunz Make New Discoveries about the Relationship Between Space Turbulence and Magnetic Fields

Monday, Dec 3, 2018
by Department of Astrophysical Sciences

The Office of Communications at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory recently featured an article sharing the scientific findings of Denis St-Onge, Princeton Plasma Physics graduate student, and Matthew Kunz, Assistant Professor of Astrophysical Sciences. The scientists’ work (paper) was published in The Astrophysical Journal of Letters in August.

St-Onge, the lead author of the paper, and Professor Kunz used powerful computers to research the characteristics of magnetic fields in space. They simulated how plasma turbulence influences magnetic fields by studying the dynamo effect, whereby a magnetic field is intensified due to the motion of the magnetic field lines. What makes this research novel is that this was specifically studied in a collisionless, weakly magnetized plasma.

This study was made possible by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Initial research results demonstrate a linkage between space turbulence and its impact on how magnetic fields in space are amplified and sustained; therefore, beginning to provide answers to a long-standing question in plasma astrophysics.