Electrostatic shock waves in the laboratory and astrophysics: similarities and differences

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    Contemporary lasers allow us to create shocks in the laboratory that propagate at a speed that matches that of energetic astrophysical shocks like those that ensheath supernova blast shells. The rapid growth time of the shocks and the spatio-temporal resolution, with which they can be sampled, allow us to identify the processes that are involved in their formation and evolution. Some laser-generated unmagnetized shocks are mediated by collective electrostatic forces and effects caused by binary collisions between particles can be neglected. Hydrodynamic models, which are valid for many large-scale astrophysical shocks, assume that collisions enforce a local thermodynamic equilibrium in the medium; laser-generated shocks are thus not always representative for astrophysical shocks. Laboratory studies of shocks can improve the understanding of their astrophysical counterparts if we can identify processes that affect electrostatic shocks and hydrodynamic shocks alike. An example is the nonlinear thin-shell instability (NTSI). We show that the NTSI destabilises collisionless and collisional shocks by the same physical mechanism.



    Original languageEnglish
    Article number014014
    Number of pages9
    JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
    Journal publication dateJan 2018
    Issue number1
    Early online date27 Oct 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
    EventEPS Conference on Plasma Physics 2017 - Belfast, United Kingdom
    Duration: 26 Jun 201730 Jun 2017

    ID: 139750938