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

      Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle


      View graph of relations

      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
      Pages (from-to)1-9
      JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
      Journal publication date27 Oct 2017
      StatePublished - 27 Oct 2017
      EventEPS Conference on Plasma Physics 2017 - Belfast, United Kingdom
      Duration: 26 Jun 201730 Jun 2017

      ID: 139750938