Plasma Astrophysics

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Magnetohydrodynamic processes in astrophysical systems

Almost the entire universe of observable normal matter is made of plasmas. On various macroscopic scales, the dynamics of magnetized plasmas can be adequately described by magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) with proper adaptations. Examples include: magnetospheres and magnetized outflows of planets, stars and compact objects, solar and stellar coronae, molecular clouds and star forming cores, core collapse of supernovae and (super-)massive stars, accretion disks around compact objects (white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes), galaxies, and galaxy clusters. Through (semi-)analytic and numerical simulation studies, we explore astrophysical MHD processes in the above contexts to learn about their origin, structure, dynamics, evolution, physical properties and diagnostic features.

Contact: Xuening Bai, Yuqing Lou,
Origin, transport, and feedback from cosmic-rays

Cosmic-rays are energetic charged particles mostly originating from beyond the solar system. Not only is their origin puzzling, they possess significant energy density in the interstellar medium play a major role in galaxy formation and evolution. Using numerical simulations, we study the processes that accelerate charged particles to become cosmic-rays in various astrophysical environments, especially in shocks and turbulence. We also investigate microscopic processes that are crucial in cosmic-ray transport and feedback.

Contact: Xuening Bai