Publications by Gianluca Gregori
PHYSICS OF PLASMAS 21 (2014) ARTN 056302
Nature Physics Nature Publishing Group 10 (2014) 520-524
X-ray1-3 and radio4-6 observations of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A reveal the presence of magnetic fields about 100 times stronger than those in the surrounding interstellar medium. Field coincident with the outer shock probably arises through a nonlinear feedback process involving cosmic rays2,7,8. The origin of the large magnetic field in the interior of the remnant is less clear but it is presumably stretched and amplified by turbulent motions. Turbulence may be generated by hydrodynamic instability at the contact discontinuity between the supernova ejecta and the circumstellar gas9. However, optical observations of Cassiopeia A indicate that the ejecta are interacting with a highly inhomogeneous, dense circumstellar cloud bank formed before the supernova explosion10-12. Herewe investigate the possibility that turbulent amplification is induced when the outer shock overtakes dense clumps in the ambient medium13-15. We report laboratory experiments that indicate the magnetic field is amplified when the shock interacts with a plastic grid. We show that our experimental results can explain the observed synchrotron emission in the interior of the remnant. The experiment also provides a laboratory example of magnetic field amplification by turbulence in plasmas, a physical process thought to occur in many astrophysical phenomena. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
Physical Review Letters 112 (2014)
Detailed measurements of the electron densities, temperatures, and ionization states of compressed CH shells approaching pressures of 50 Mbar are achieved with spectrally resolved x-ray scattering. Laser-produced 9 keV x-rays probe the plasma during the transient state of three-shock coalescence. High signal-to-noise x-ray scattering spectra show direct evidence of continuum depression in highly degenerate warm dense matter states with electron densities ne>1024cm-3. The measured densities and temperatures agree well with radiation-hydrodynamic modeling when accounting for continuum lowering in calculations that employ detailed configuration accounting. © 2014 American Physical Society.
Physical review letters 112 (2014) 105002-
We report on the dynamics of ultrafast heating in cryogenic hydrogen initiated by a ≲300 fs, 92 eV free electron laser x-ray burst. The rise of the x-ray scattering amplitude from a second x-ray pulse probes the transition from dense cryogenic molecular hydrogen to a nearly uncorrelated plasmalike structure, indicating an electron-ion equilibration time of ∼0.9 ps. The rise time agrees with radiation hydrodynamics simulations based on a conductivity model for partially ionized plasma that is validated by two-temperature density-functional theory.
Nature Physics (2014)
X-ray and radio observations of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A reveal the presence of magnetic fields about 100 times stronger than those in the surrounding interstellar medium. Field coincident with the outer shock probably arises through a nonlinear feedback process involving cosmic rays. The origin of the large magnetic field in the interior of the remnant is less clear but it is presumably stretched and amplified by turbulent motions. Turbulence may be generated by hydrodynamic instability at the contact discontinuity between the supernova ejecta and the circumstellar gas. However, optical observations of Cassiopeia A indicate that the ejecta are interacting with a highly inhomogeneous, dense circumstellar cloud bank formed before the supernova explosion. Here we investigate the possibility that turbulent amplification is induced when the outer shock overtakes dense clumps in the ambient medium. We report laboratory experiments that indicate the magnetic field is amplified when the shock interacts with a plastic grid. We show that our experimental results can explain the observed synchrotron emission in the interior of the remnant. The experiment also provides a laboratory example of magnetic field amplification by turbulence in plasmas, a physical process thought to occur in many astrophysical phenomena.
Scientific reports 4 (2014) 5214-
Here, we report results of an experiment creating a transient, highly correlated carbon state using a combination of optical and x-ray lasers. Scattered x-rays reveal a highly ordered state with an electrostatic energy significantly exceeding the thermal energy of the ions. Strong Coulomb forces are predicted to induce nucleation into a crystalline ion structure within a few picoseconds. However, we observe no evidence of such phase transition after several tens of picoseconds but strong indications for an over-correlated fluid state. The experiment suggests a much slower nucleation and points to an intermediate glassy state where the ions are frozen close to their original positions in the fluid.
Physical Review Letters 112 (2014)
We have employed fast electrons produced by intense laser illumination to isochorically heat thermal electrons in solid density carbon to temperatures of ∼10000K. Using time-resolved x-ray diffraction, the temperature evolution of the lattice ions is obtained through the Debye-Waller effect, and this directly relates to the electron-ion equilibration rate. This is shown to be considerably lower than predicted from ideal plasma models. We attribute this to strong ion coupling screening the electron-ion interaction. © 2014 American Physical Society.
High Energy Density Physics 9 (2013) 172-177
The Flash Center is engaged in a collaboration to simulate laser driven experiments aimed at understanding the generation and amplification of cosmological magnetic fields using the FLASH code. In these experiments a laser illuminates a solid plastic or graphite target launching an asymmetric blast wave into a chamber which contains either Helium or Argon at millibar pressures. Induction coils placed several centimeters away from the target detect large scale magnetic fields on the order of tens to hundreds of Gauss. The time dependence of the magnetic field is consistent with generation via the Biermann battery mechanism near the blast wave. Attempts to perform simulations of these experiments using the FLASH code have uncovered previously unreported numerical difficulties in modeling the Biermann battery mechanism near shock waves which can lead to the production of large non-physical magnetic fields. We report on these difficulties and offer a potential solution. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Physics of Plasmas 20 (2013)
Spherically expanding radiative shock waves have been observed from inertially confined implosion experiments at the National Ignition Facility. In these experiments, a spherical fusion target, initially 2 mm in diameter, is compressed via the pressure induced from the ablation of the outer target surface. At the peak compression of the capsule, x-ray and nuclear diagnostics indicate the formation of a central core, with a radius and ion temperature of ∼20 μm and ∼ 2 keV, respectively. This central core is surrounded by a cooler compressed shell of deuterium-tritium fuel that has an outer radius of ∼40 μm and a density of >500 g/cm. Using inputs from multiple diagnostics, the peak pressure of the compressed core has been inferred to be of order 100 Gbar for the implosions discussed here. The shock front, initially located at the interface between the high pressure compressed fuel shell and surrounding in-falling low pressure ablator plasma, begins to propagate outwards after peak compression has been reached. Approximately 200 ps after peak compression, a ring of x-ray emission created by the limb-brightening of a spherical shell of shock-heated matter is observed to appear at a radius of ∼100 μm. Hydrodynamic simulations, which model the experiment and include radiation transport, indicate that the sudden appearance of this emission occurs as the post-shock material temperature increases and upstream density decreases, over a scale length of ∼10 μm, as the shock propagates into the lower density (∼1 g/cc), hot (∼250 eV) plasma that exists at the ablation front. The expansion of the shock-heated matter is temporally and spatially resolved and indicates a shock expansion velocity of ∼300 km/s in the laboratory frame. The magnitude and temporal evolution of the luminosity produced from the shock-heated matter was measured at photon energies between 5.9 and 12.4 keV. The observed radial shock expansion, as well as the magnitude and temporal evolution of the luminosity from the shock-heated matter, is consistent with 1-D radiation hydrodynamic simulations. Analytic estimates indicate that the radiation energy flux from the shock-heated matter is of the same order as the in-flowing material energy flux, and suggests that this radiation energy flux modifies the shock front structure. Simulations support these estimates and show the formation of a radiative shock, with a precursor that raises the temperature ahead of the shock front, a sharp μ m-scale thick spike in temperature at the shock front, followed by a post-shock cooling layer. © 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.
Comparison between x-ray scattering and velocity-interferometry measurements from shocked liquid deuterium
Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics 87 (2013)
The equation of state of light elements is essential to understand the structure of Jovian planets and inertial confinement fusion research. The Omega laser was used to drive a planar shock wave in the cryogenically cooled deuterium, creating warm dense matter conditions. X-ray scattering was used to determine the spectrum near the boundary of the collective and noncollective scattering regimes using a narrow band x-ray source in backscattering geometry. Our scattering spectra are thus sensitive to the individual electron motion as well as the collective plasma behavior and provide a measurement of the electron density, temperature, and ionization state. Our data are consistent with velocity-interferometry measurements previously taken on the same shocked deuterium conditions and presented by K. Falk. This work presents a comparison of the two diagnostic systems and offers a detailed discussion of challenges encountered. ©2013 American Physical Society.
Diffusive shock acceleration at laser-driven shocks: Studying cosmic-ray accelerators in the laboratory
New Journal of Physics 15 (2013)
The non-thermal particle spectra responsible for the emission from many astrophysical systems are thought to originate from shocks via a first order Fermi process otherwise known as diffusive shock acceleration. The same mechanism is also widely believed to be responsible for the production of high energy cosmic rays. With the growing interest in collisionless shock physics in laser produced plasmas, the possibility of reproducing and detecting shock acceleration in controlled laboratory experiments should be considered. The various experimental constraints that must be satisfied are reviewed. It is demonstrated that several currently operating laser facilities may fulfil the necessary criteria to confirm the occurrence of diffusive shock acceleration of electrons at laser produced shocks. Successful reproduction of Fermi acceleration in the laboratory could open a range of possibilities, providing insight into the complex plasma processes that occur near astrophysical sources of cosmic rays. © IOP Publishing and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.
Visualizing electromagnetic fields in laser-produced counter-streaming plasma experiments for collisionless shock laboratory astrophysics
Physics of Plasmas 20 (2013)
Collisionless shocks are often observed in fast-moving astrophysical plasmas, formed by non-classical viscosity that is believed to originate from collective electromagnetic fields driven by kinetic plasma instabilities. However, the development of small-scale plasma processes into large-scale structures, such as a collisionless shock, is not well understood. It is also unknown to what extent collisionless shocks contain macroscopic fields with a long coherence length. For these reasons, it is valuable to explore collisionless shock formation, including the growth and self-organization of fields, in laboratory plasmas. The experimental results presented here show at a glance with proton imaging how macroscopic fields can emerge from a system of supersonic counter-streaming plasmas produced at the OMEGA EP laser. Interpretation of these results, plans for additional measurements, and the difficulty of achieving truly collisionless conditions are discussed. Future experiments at the National Ignition Facility are expected to create fully formed collisionless shocks in plasmas with no pre-imposed magnetic field. © 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.
EPJ Web of Conferences 59 (2013)
The experiments to simulate astrophysical jet generation are performed using Gekko XII (GXII) HIPER laser system at the Institute of Laser Engineering. In the experiments a fast plasma flow generated by shooting a CH plane (10 μm thickness) is observed at the rear side of the plane. By separating the focal spot of the main beams, a non-uniform plasma is generated. The non-uniform plasma flow in an external magnetic field (0.2∼0.3 T) perpendicular to the plasma is more collimated than that without the external magnetic field. The plasma β, the ratio between the plasma and magnetic pressure, is â‰ 1, and the magnetic Reynolds number is ∼150 in the collimated plasma. It is considered that the magnetic field is distorted by the plasma flow and enhances the jet collimation. © Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013.
Simulation of laser-driven, ablated plasma flows in collisionless shock experiments on OMEGA and the NIF
High Energy Density Physics 9 (2013) 192-197
Experiments investigating the physics of interpenetrating, collisionless, ablated plasma flows have become an important area of research in the high-energy-density field. In order to evaluate the feasibility of designing experiments that will generate a collisionless shock mediated by the Weibel instability on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser, computer simulations using the Center for Radiative Shock Hydrodynamics (CRASH) radiation-hydrodynamics model have been carried out. This paper reports assessment of whether the experiment can reach the required scale size while maintaining the low interflow collisionality necessary for the collisionless shock to form. Comparison of simulation results with data from Omega experiments shows the ability of the CRASH code to model these ablated systems. The combined results indicate that experiments on the NIF are capable of reaching the regimes necessary for the formation of a collisionless shock in a laboratory experiment. © 2013.
New Journal of Physics 15 (2013)
This paper reviews the treatment of high-frequency Thomson scattering in the non-relativistic and near-relativistic regimes with the primary purpose of understanding the nature of the frequency redistribution correction to the differential cross-section. This correction is generally represented by a factor involving the ratio ω α /ω β of the scattered (α) to primary (β) frequencies of the radiation. In some formulae given in the literature, the ratio appears squared, in others it does not. In Compton scattering, the frequency change is generally understood to be due to the recoil of the particle as a result of energy and momentum conservation in the photon-electron system. In this case, the Klein-Nishina formula gives the redistribution factor as . In the case of scattering by a many-particle system, however, the frequency and momentum changes are no longer directly interdependent but depend also upon the properties of the medium, which are encoded in the dynamic structure factor. We show that the redistribution factor explicit in the quantum cross-section (that seen by a photon) is ω α /ω β, which is not squared. Formulae for the many-body cross-section given in the literature, in which the factor is squared, can often be attributed to a different (classical) definition of the cross-section, though not all authors are explicit about which definition they are using. What is shown not to be true is that the structure factor simply gives the ratio of the many-electron to one-electron differential cross-sections, as is sometimes supposed. Mixing up the cross-section definitions can lead to errors when describing x-ray scattering. We illustrate the nature of the discrepancy by deriving the energy-integrated angular distributions, with first-order relativistic corrections, for classical and quantum scattering measurements, as well as the radiative opacity for photon diffusion in a Thomson-scattering medium, which is generally considered to be governed by quantum processes. © IOP Publishing and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.
High Energy Density Physics 9 (2013) 510-515
X-ray scattering is a powerful diagnostic technique that has been used in a variety of experimental settings to determine the temperature, density, and ionization state of warm dense matter. In order to maximize the intensity of the scattered signal, the x-ray source is often placed in close proximity to the target plasma. Therefore, the interpretation of the experimental data can become complicated by the fact that the detector records photons scattered at different angles from points within the plasma volume. In addition, the target plasma that is scattering the x-rays can have significant temperature and density gradients. To address these issues, we have developed the capability to simulate x-ray scattering for realistic experimental configurations where the effects of plasma non-uniformities and a range of x-ray scattering angles are included. We will discuss the implementation details and show results relevant to previous and ongoing experimental investigations. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
High Energy Density Physics 9 (2013) 573-577
We have carried out X-ray scattering experiments on iron foil samples that have been compressed and heated using laser-driven shocks created with the VULCAN laser system at the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory. This is the highest Z element studied in such experiments so far and the first time scattering from warm dense iron has been reported. Because of the importance of iron in telluric planets, the work is relevant to studies of warm dense matter in planetary interiors. We report scattering results as well as shock breakout results that, in conjunction with hydrodynamic simulations, suggest the target has been compressed to a molten state at several 100GPa pressure. Initial comparison with modelling suggests more work is needed to understand the structure factor of warm dense iron. © 2013.
FLASH hydrodynamic simulations of experiments to explore the generation of cosmological magnetic fields
High Energy Density Physics 9 (2013) 75-81
We report the results of FLASH hydrodynamic simulations of the experiments conducted by the University of Oxford High Energy Density Laboratory Astrophysics group and its collaborators at the Laboratoire pour l'Utilisation de Lasers Intenses (LULI). In these experiments, a long-pulse laser illuminates a target in a chamber filled with Argon gas, producing shock waves that generate magnetic fields via the Biermann battery mechanism. The simulations show that the result of the laser illuminating the target is a series of complex hydrodynamic phenomena. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Orbital-free density-functional theory simulations of the dynamic structure factor of warm dense aluminum
Physical Review Letters 111 (2013)
Here, we report orbital-free density-functional theory (OF DFT) molecular dynamics simulations of the dynamic ion structure factor of warm solid density aluminum at T=0.5 eV and T=5 eV. We validate the OF DFT method in the warm dense matter regime through comparison of the static and thermodynamic properties with the more complete Kohn-Sham DFT. This extension of OF DFT to dynamic properties indicates that previously used models based on classical molecular dynamics may be inadequate to capture fully the low frequency dynamics of the response function. © 2013 American Physical Society.
Physical Review Letters 111 (2013)
We present the first direct experimental test of the complex ion structure in liquid carbon at pressures around 100 GPa, using spectrally resolved x-ray scattering from shock-compressed graphite samples. Our results confirm the structure predicted by ab initio quantum simulations and demonstrate the importance of chemical bonds at extreme conditions similar to those found in the interiors of giant planets. The evidence presented here thus provides a firmer ground for modeling the evolution and current structure of carbon-bearing icy giants like Neptune, Uranus, and a number of extrasolar planets. © 2013 American Physical Society.