Physics Seminar - Paul Cassak

Event Title: Paul Cassak, West Virginia UniversityOrganization: PHYDr. Paul Cassak

Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
West Virginia University

"Magnetic Field Lines Breaking in Space Causes Huge Eruptions"

Freshman physics tells us that magnetic field lines are not allowed to have free ends. However, counterintuitively, magnetic field lines can break! When this process occurs in high temperature ionized gases (plasmas), it is called magnetic reconnection. Rather than simply being a curiosity, it turns out to be a crucial mechanism that converts magnetic energy into kinetic energy and heat of the surrounding plasmas. It is the mechanism behind the eruptive energy release in solar flares and coronal mass ejections, geomagnetic storms producing aurora, disruptive events in magnetically confined fusion plasmas, and in many astrophysical contexts. Consequently, understanding reconnection is a key aspect of both mitigating the harmful effects of space weather and harnessing essentially renewable energy through fusion. Studying reconnection was the motivation for the recently-launched NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission. In this talk, studies of magnetic reconnection using theoretical techniques, a number of different supercomputer numerical simulation techniques, and using MMS will be shown.

Friday, January 25, 2019 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Masters Hall 110 Mara Auditorium

Physics Department
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