Strong suppression of heat conduction in a laboratory replica of galaxy-cluster turbulent plasmas

Jena Meinecke, Petros Tzeferacos, James S. Ross, Archie F. A. Bott, Scott Feister, Hye-Sook Park, Anthony R. Bell, Roger Blandford, Richard L. Berger, Robert Bingham, Alexis Casner, Laura E. Chen, John Foster, Dustin H. Froula, Clement Goyon, Daniel Kalantar, Michel Koenig, Brandon Lahmann, Chikang Li, Yingchao LuCharlotte A. J. Palmer, Richard D. Petrasso, Hannah Poole, Bruce Remington, Brian Reville, Adam Reyes, Alexandra Rigby, Dongsu Ryu, George Swadling, Alex Zylstra, Francesco Miniati, Subir Sarkar, Alexander A. Schekochihin, Donald Q. Lamb, Gianluca Gregori

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In conventional gases and plasmas, it is known that heat fluxes are proportional to temperature gradients, with collisions between particles mediating energy flow from hotter to colder regions and the coefficient of thermal conduction given by Spitzer’s theory. However, this theory breaks down in magnetized, turbulent, weakly collisional plasmas, although modifications are difficult to predict from first principles due to the complex, multiscale nature of the problem. Understanding heat transport is important in astrophysical plasmas such as those in galaxy clusters, where observed temperature profiles are explicable only in the presence of a strong suppression of heat conduction compared to Spitzer’s theory. To address this problem, we have created a replica of such a system in a laser laboratory experiment. Our data show a reduction of heat transport by two orders of magnitude or more, leading to large temperature variations on small spatial scales (as is seen in cluster plasmas).
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience Advances
Issue number10
Early online date09 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2022


  • Multidisciplinary


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