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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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