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A new approach to target development for laboratory astrophysics experiments at high-power laser facilities is presented. With the dawn of high-power lasers, laboratory astrophysics has emerged as a field, bringing insight into physical processes in astrophysical objects, such as the formation of stars. An important factor for success in these experiments is targetry. To date, targets have mainly relied on expensive and challenging microfabrication methods. The design presented incorporates replaceable machined parts that assemble into a structure that defines the experimental geometry. This can make targets cheaper and faster to manufacture, while maintaining robustness and reproducibility. The platform is intended for experiments on plasma flows, but it is flexible and may be adapted to the constraints of other experimental setups. Examples of targets used in experimental campaigns are shown, including a design for insertion in a high magnetic field coil. Experimental results are included, demonstrating the performance of the targets.
We report on the design and first results from experiments looking at the formation of radiative shocks on the Shenguang-II (SG-II) laser at the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics in China. Laser-heating of a two-layer CH/CH–Br foil drives a $\sim 40$ km/s shock inside a gas cell filled with argon at an initial pressure of 1 bar. The use of gas-cell targets with large (several millimetres) lateral and axial extent allows the shock to propagate freely without any wall interactions, and permits a large field of view to image single and colliding counter-propagating shocks with time-resolved, point-projection X-ray backlighting ($\sim 20$ μm source size, 4.3 keV photon energy). Single shocks were imaged up to 100 ns after the onset of the laser drive, allowing to probe the growth of spatial nonuniformities in the shock apex. These results are compared with experiments looking at counter-propagating shocks, showing a symmetric drive that leads to a collision and stagnation from $\sim 40$ ns onward. We present a preliminary comparison with numerical simulations with the radiation hydrodynamics code ARWEN, which provides expected plasma parameters for the design of future experiments in this facility.
Collimated outflows (jets) are ubiquitous in the universe, appearing around sources as diverse as protostars and extragalactic supermassive black holes. Jets are thought to be magnetically collimated, and launched from a magnetized accretion disk surrounding a compact gravitating object. We have developed the first laboratory experiment to address time-dependent, episodic phenomena relevant to the poorly understood jet acceleration and collimation region (Ciardi et al., 2009). The experiments were performed on the MAGPIE pulsed power facility (1.5 MA, 250 ns) at Imperial College. The experimental results show the periodic ejections of magnetic bubbles naturally evolving into a heterogeneous jet propagating inside a channel made of self-collimated magnetic cavities. The results provide a unique view of the possible transition from a relatively steady-state jet launching to the observed highly structured outflows.
With the aim to model jets produced by conical wire arrays on the MAGPIE generator, and to strengthen the link between laboratory and astrophysical jets, we performed three-dimensional magneto-hydro-dynamic numerical simulations using the code GORGON and successfully reproduced the experiments. We found that a minimum resolution of ~100 μm is required to retrieve the unstable character of the jet. Moreover, arrays with less wires produce more unstable jets with stronger magnetic fields around them.
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