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).
|Early online date||09 Mar 2022|
|Publication status||Published - 11 Mar 2022|