Publications


Global gyrokinetic turbulence simulations of MAST plasmas

Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 54 (2012)

S Saarelma, G Colyer, AR Field, CM Roach, A Bottino, P Hill, B McMillan, A Peeters

Electrostatic gyrokinetic analyses are presented for an L-mode discharge with an internal transport barrier, from the spherical tokamak, MAST. Local and global microstability analysis finds similar linear growth rates for ion temperature gradient (ITG) driven modes. When the electron response is assumed to be adiabatic, growth rates are found to be lower than the experimental E×B flow shearing rate. Including kinetic electrons, without collisions, increases the ITG growth rates above the flow shearing rate, and these modes are found to be linearly unstable in the outer part of the plasma only. In global simulations the flow shear stabilization is found to be asymmetric with respect to the direction of the flow: there is a small destabilizing effect at low flow shear when the flow is in the co-direction. Global non-linear simulations with kinetic electrons and including the flow shear effects predict turbulent ion heat transport that is well above the neoclassical level in the region outside the internal transport barrier in this MAST plasma. In non-linear simulations we also find turbulence extending from the outer part of the plasma into the linearly stable core region. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd.


Measuring electron-positron annihilation radiation from laser plasma interactions

Review of Scientific Instruments 83 (2012)

H Chen, R Tommasini, J Seely, CI Szabo, U Feldman, N Pereira, G Gregori, K Falk, J Mithen, CD Murphy

We investigated various diagnostic techniques to measure the 511 keV annihilation radiations. These include step-wedge filters, transmission crystal spectroscopy, single-hit CCD detectors, and streaked scintillating detection. While none of the diagnostics recorded conclusive results, the step-wedge filter that is sensitive to the energy range between 100 keV and 700 keV shows a signal around 500 keV that is clearly departing from a pure Bremsstrahlung spectrum and that we ascribe to annihilation radiation. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.


The Zero Turbulence Manifold in Fusion Plasmas

ArXiv (2012)

EG Highcock

The transport of heat that results from turbulence is a major factor limiting the temperature gradient, and thus the performance, of fusion devices. We use nonlinear simulations to show that a toroidal equilibrium scale sheared flow can completely suppress the turbulence across a wide range of flow gradient and temperature gradient values. We demonstrate the existence of a bifurcation across this range whereby the plasma may transition from a low flow gradient and temperature gradient state to a higher flow gradient and temperature gra- dient state. We show further that the maximum temperature gradient that can be reached by such a transition is limited by the existence, at high flow gradient, of subcritical turbulence driven by the parallel velocity gradient (PVG). We use linear simulations and analytic calculations to examine the properties of the transiently growing modes which give rise to this subcritical turbulence, and conclude that there may be a critical value of the ratio of the PVG to the suppressing perpendicular gradient of the velocity (in a tokamak this ratio is equal to q/{\epsilon} where q is the magnetic safety factor and {\epsilon} the inverse aspect ratio) below which the PVG is unable to drive subcritical turbulence. In light of this, we use nonlinear simulations to calculate, as a function of three parameters (the perpendicular flow shear, q/{\epsilon} and the temperature gradient), the surface within that parameter space which divides the regions where turbulence can and cannot be sustained: the zero- turbulence manifold. We are unable to conclude that there is in fact a critical value of q/{\epsilon} below which PVG-driven turbulence is eliminated. Nevertheless, we demonstrate that at low values of q/{\epsilon}, the maximum critical temperature gradient that can be reached without generating turbulence is dramatically increased.


Angular momentum transfer to a Milky Way disk at high redshift

ArXiv (2012)

H Tillson, J Devriendt, A Slyz, L Miller, C Pichon

An Adaptive Mesh Refinement cosmological resimulation is analyzed in order to test whether filamentary flows of cold gas are responsible for the build-up of angular momentum within a Milky Way like disk at z>=3. A set of algorithms is presented that takes advantage of the high spatial resolution of the simulation (12 pc) to identify: (i) the central gas disk and its plane of orientation; (ii) the complex individual filament trajectories that connect to the disk, and; (iii) the infalling satellites. The results show that two filaments at z>5.5, which later merge to form a single filament at z<4, drive the angular momentum and mass budget of the disk throughout its evolution, whereas luminous satellite mergers make negligible fractional contributions. Combined with the ubiquitous presence of such filaments in all large-scale cosmological simulations that include hydrodynamics, these findings provide strong quantitative evidence that the growth of thin disks in haloes with masses below 10^{12} M_{sun}, which host the vast majority of galaxies, is supported via inflowing streams of cold gas at intermediate and high redshifts.


The non-thermal emission of extended radio galaxy lobes with curved electron spectra

ArXiv (2011)

P Duffy, KM Blundell

The existing theoretical framework for the energies stored in the synchrotron-emitting lobes of radio galaxies and quasars doesn't properly account for the curved spectral shape that many of them exhibit. We characterise these spectra using parameters that are straightforwardly observable in the era of high-resolution, low-frequency radio astronomy: the spectral curvature and the turnover in the frequency spectrum. This characterisation gives the Lorentz factor at the turnover in the energy distribution (we point out that this is distinctly different from the Lorentz factor corresponding to the turnover frequency in a way that depends on the amount of curvature in the spectrum) and readily gives the equipartition magnetic field strength and the total energy of the radiating plasma obviating the need for any assumed values of the cutoff frequencies to calculate these important physical quantities. This framework readily yields the form of the X-ray emission due to inverse-Compton (IC) scattering of Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) photons by the electrons in the plasma having Lorentz factors of $\sim$1000. We also present the contribution to CMB anisotropies due to relativistic plasmas such as giant radio galaxy lobes, expressed in terms of the extent to which the lobes have their magnetic field and particle energies are in equipartition with one another.


Measurements of radiative shock properties using X-ray Thomson scattering

IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science (2009)

A Visco, RP Drake, MJ Grosskopf, SH Glenzer, DH Froula, G Gregori


Concepts in Thermal Physics 2nd Edition

, 2012

SJ Blundell, KM Blundell


Generation of scaled protogalactic seed magnetic fields in laser-produced shock waves.

Nature 481 (2012) 480-483

G Gregori, A Ravasio, CD Murphy, K Schaar, A Baird, AR Bell, A Benuzzi-Mounaix, R Bingham, C Constantin, RP Drake, M Edwards, ET Everson, CD Gregory, Y Kuramitsu, W Lau, J Mithen, C Niemann, HS Park, BA Remington, B Reville, AP Robinson, DD Ryutov, Y Sakawa, S Yang, NC Woolsey, M Koenig, F Miniati

The standard model for the origin of galactic magnetic fields is through the amplification of seed fields via dynamo or turbulent processes to the level consistent with present observations. Although other mechanisms may also operate, currents from misaligned pressure and temperature gradients (the Biermann battery process) inevitably accompany the formation of galaxies in the absence of a primordial field. Driven by geometrical asymmetries in shocks associated with the collapse of protogalactic structures, the Biermann battery is believed to generate tiny seed fields to a level of about 10(-21) gauss (refs 7, 8). With the advent of high-power laser systems in the past two decades, a new area of research has opened in which, using simple scaling relations, astrophysical environments can effectively be reproduced in the laboratory. Here we report the results of an experiment that produced seed magnetic fields by the Biermann battery effect. We show that these results can be scaled to the intergalactic medium, where turbulence, acting on timescales of around 700 million years, can amplify the seed fields sufficiently to affect galaxy evolution.


More dynamical models of our Galaxy

ArXiv (2012)

J Binney

Using a new algorithm for estimating the actions of orbits a parametrised distribution function is automatically fitted to observational data for the solar neighbourhood. We adopt a gravitational potential that is generated by three discs (gas and both thin and thick stellar discs), a bulge and a dark halo, and fit the thin-disc component of the distribution function to the solar-neighbourhood velocity distribution from the Geneva-Copenhagen Survey. We find that the disc's vertical density profile is in good agreement with data at z<~500 pc. The thick-disc component of the distribution function is then used to extend the fit to data from Gilmore & Reid (1983) for z<~2.5 kpc. The resulting model predicts excellent fits to the profile of the vertical velocity dispersion \sigma_z(z) from the RAVE survey and to the distribution of v_\phi velocity components at |z|~1kpc from the SDSS survey. The ability of this model to predict successfully data that was not used in the fitting process suggests that the adopted gravitational potential (which is close to a maximum-disc potential) is close to the true one. We show that if another plausible potential is used, the predicted values of \sigma_z are too large. The models imply that in contrast to the thin disc, the thick disc has to be hotter vertically than radially, a prediction that it will be possible to test in the near future. When the model parameters are adjusted in an unconstrained manner, there is a tendency to produce models that predict unexpected radial variations in quantities such as scale height. This finding suggests that to constrain these models adequately one needs data that extends significantly beyond the solar cylinder. The models presented in this paper might prove useful to the interpretation of data for external galaxies that has been taken with an integral field unit.


XUV spectroscopic characterization of warm dense aluminum plasmas generated by the free-electron-laser FLASH

Laser and Particle Beams 30 (2012) 45-56

U Zastrau, I Uschmann, E Förster, T Burian, J Chalupsky, L Juha, T Döppner, C Fortmann, SH Glenzer, RW Lee, AJ Nelson, TWJ Dzelzainis, CLS Lewis, D Riley, RR Fäustlin, N Medvedev, S Toleikis, E Galtier, HJ Lee, B Nagler, FB Rosmej, G Gregori, SM Vinko, JS Wark, T Whitcher, T Tschentscher

We report on experiments aimed at the generation and characterization of solid density plasmas at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg. Aluminum samples were irradiated with XUV pulses at 13.5 nm wavelength (92 eV photon energy). The pulses with duration of a few tens of femtoseconds and pulse energy up to 100 μJ are focused to intensities ranging between 10 and 10 W/cm . We investigate the absorption and temporal evolution of the sample under irradiation by use of XUV and optical spectroscopy. We discuss the origin of saturable absorption, radiative decay, bremsstrahlung and atomic and ionic line emission. Our experimental results are in good agreement with simulations. © 2012 Cambridge University Press.


Actions for axisymmetric potentials

ArXiv (2012)

J Binney

We give an algorithm for the economical calculation of angles and actions for stars in axisymmetric potentials. We test the algorithm by integrating orbits in a realistic model of the Galactic potential, and find that, even for orbits characteristic of thick-disc stars, the errors in the actions are typically smaller than 2 percent. We describe a scheme for obtaining actions by interpolation on tabulated values that significantly accelerates the process of calculating observables quantities, such as density and velocity moments, from a distribution function.


Focal aberrations of large-aperture HOPG von-Hàmos x-ray spectrometers

Journal of Instrumentation 7 (2012)

U Zastrau, CRD Brown, T Döppner, SH Glenzer, G Gregori, HJ Lee, H Marschner, S Toleikis, O Wehrhan, E Förster

Focal aberrations of large-aperture highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) crystals in von-Hàmos geometry are investigated by experimental and computational methods. A mosaic HOPG crystal film of 100 μm thickness diffracts 8 keV x-rays. This thickness is smaller than the absorption depth of the symmetric 004-reflection, which amounts to 257 μm. Cylindrically bent crystals with 110mm radius of curvature and up to 100 mm collection width produce a X-shaped halo around the focus. This feature vanishes when the collection aperture is reduced, but axial spectral profiles show that the resolution is not affected. X-ray topography reveals significant inhomogeneous crystallite domains of 2±1mm diameter along the entire crystal. Rocking curves shift by about ±20arcmin between domains, while their full width at half-maximum varies between 30 and 50 arcmin. These inhomogeneities are not imprinted at the focal spot, since the monochromatically reflecting area of the crystal is large compared to inhomogeneities. Ray-tracing calculations using a Monte-Carlo-based algorithm developed for mosaic crystals reproduce the X-shaped halo in the focal plane, stemming from the mosaic defocussing in the non-dispersive direction in combination with large apertures. The best achievable resolution is found by analyzing a diversity of rocking curve widths, source sizes and crystal thicknesses for 8 keV x-rays to be ΔE/E ∼ 10-4. Finally a general analytic expression for the shape of the aberration is derived. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd and Sissa Medialab srl.


Diffusive shock acceleration and magnetic field amplification

Space Science Reviews 173 (2012) 491-519

KM Schure, AR Bell, AM Bykov, L O'C Drury

Diffusive shock acceleration is the theory of particle acceleration through multiple shock crossings. In order for this process to proceed at a rate that can be reconciled with observations of high-energy electrons in the vicinity of the shock, and for cosmic rays protons to be accelerated to energies up to observed galactic values, significant magnetic field amplification is required. In this review we will discuss various theories on how magnetic field amplification can proceed in the presence of a cosmic ray population. On both short and long length scales, cosmic ray streaming can induce instabilities that act to amplify the magnetic field. Developments in this area that have occurred over the past decade are the main focus of this paper. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Subcritical fluctuations and suppression of turbulence in differentially rotating gyrokinetic plasmas

PLASMA PHYSICS AND CONTROLLED FUSION 54 (2012) ARTN 055011

AA Schekochihin, EG Highcock, SC Cowley


The X-ray luminous cluster underlying the z = 1.04 quasar PKS1229-021

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 422 (2012) 590-599

HR Russell, AC Fabian, JS Sanders, CS Crawford, RM Johnstone, E Belsole, GB Taylor, KM Blundell

We present a 100ks Chandra observation studying the extended X-ray emission around the powerful z= 1.04 quasar PKS1229-021. The diffuse cluster X-ray emission can be traced out to ∼15arcsec (∼120kpc) radius and there is a drop in the calculated hardness ratio inside the central 5arcsec consistent with the presence of a cool core. Radio observations of the quasar show a strong core and a bright, one-sided jet leading to the south-west hotspot and a second hotspot visible on the counter-jet side. Although the wings of the quasar point spread function (PSF) provided a significant contribution to the total X-ray flux at all radii where the extended cluster emission was detected, we were able to accurately subtract the PSF emission using Chandra Ray Tracer and marx simulations. The resulting steep cluster surface brightness profile for PKS1229-021 appears similar to the profile for the FR II (Fanaroff-Riley class II) radio galaxy 3C444, which has a similarly rapid surface brightness drop caused by a powerful shock surrounding the radio lobes. Using a model surface brightness profile based on 3C444, we estimated the total cluster luminosity for PKS1229-021 to be. We discuss the difficulty of detecting cool-core clusters, which host bright X-ray sources, in high redshift surveys. © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.


Self-regulated growth of supermassive black holes by a dual jet-heating active galactic nucleus feedback mechanism: Methods, tests and implications for cosmological simulations

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 420 (2012) 2662-2683

Y Dubois, J Devriendt, A Slyz, R Teyssier

We develop a subgrid model for the growth of supermassive black holes (BHs) and their associated active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback in hydrodynamical cosmological simulations. This model transposes previous attempts to describe BH accretion and AGN feedback with the smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) technique to the adaptive mesh refinement framework. It also furthers their development by implementing a new jet-like outflow treatment of the AGN feedback which we combine with the heating mode traditionally used in the SPH approach. Thus, our approach allows one to test the robustness of the conclusions derived from simulating the impact of self-regulated AGN feedback on galaxy formation vis-à-vis the numerical method. Assuming that BHs are created in the early stages of galaxy formation, they grow by mergers and accretion of gas at a Eddington-limited Bondi accretion rate. However this growth is regulated by AGN feedback which we model using two different modes: a quasar-heating mode when accretion rates on to the BHs are comparable to the Eddington rate, and a radio-jet mode at lower accretion rates which not only deposits energy, but also deposits mass and momentum on the grid. In other words, our feedback model deposits energy as a succession of thermal bursts and jet outflows depending on the properties of the gas surrounding the BHs. We assess the plausibility of such a model by comparing our results to observational measurements of the co-evolution of BHs and their host galaxy properties, and check their robustness with respect to numerical resolution. We show that AGN feedback must be a crucial physical ingredient for the formation of massive galaxies as it appears to be able to efficiently prevent the accumulation of and/or expel cold gas out of haloes/galaxies and significantly suppress star formation. Our model predicts that the relationship between BHs and their host galaxy mass evolves as a function of redshift, because of the vigorous accretion of cold material in the early Universe that drives Eddington-limited accretion on to BHs. Quasar activity is also enhanced at high redshift. However, as structures grow in mass and lose their cold material through star formation and efficient BH feedback ejection, the AGN activity in the low-redshift Universe becomes more and more dominated by the radio mode, which powers jets through the hot circumgalactic medium. © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.


The X-ray luminous cluster underlying the z = 1.04 quasar PKS1229-021

ArXiv (2012)

HR Russell, AC Fabian, GB Taylor, JS Sanders, KM Blundell, CS Crawford, RM Johnstone, E Belsole

We present a 100 ks Chandra observation studying the extended X-ray emission around the powerful z=1.04 quasar PKS1229-021. The diffuse cluster X-ray emission can be traced out to ~15 arcsec (~120 kpc) radius and there is a drop in the calculated hardness ratio inside the central 5 arcsec consistent with the presence of a cool core. Radio observations of the quasar show a strong core and a bright, one-sided jet leading to the SW hot spot and a second hot spot visible on the counter-jet side. Although the wings of the quasar PSF provided a significant contribution to the total X-ray flux at all radii where the extended cluster emission was detected, we were able to accurately subtract off the PSF emission using ChaRT and marx simulations. The resulting steep cluster surface brightness profile for PKS1229-021 appears similar to the profile for the FRII radio galaxy 3C444, which has a similarly rapid surface brightness drop caused by a powerful shock surrounding the radio lobes (Croston et al.). Using a model surface brightness profile based on 3C444, we estimated the total cluster luminosity for PKS1229-021 to be L_X ~ 2 x 10^{44} erg/s. We discuss the difficulty of detecting cool core clusters, which host bright X-ray sources, in high redshift surveys.


THE EPOCH OF DISK SETTLING: z similar to 1 TO NOW

ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL 758 (2012) ARTN 106

SA Kassin, BJ Weiner, SM Faber, JP Gardner, CNA Willmer, AL Coil, MC Cooper, J Devriendt, AA Dutton, P Guhathakurta, DC Koo, AJ Metevier, KG Noeske, JR Primack


Zero-Turbulence Manifold in a Toroidal Plasma

ArXiv (2012)

EG Highcock, AA Schekochihin, SC Cowley, M Barnes, FI Parra, CM Roach, W Dorland

Sheared toroidal flows can cause bifurcations to zero-turbulent-transport states in tokamak plasmas. The maximum temperature gradients that can be reached are limited by subcritical turbulence driven by the parallel velocity gradient. Here it is shown that q/\epsilon (magnetic field pitch/inverse aspect ratio) is a critical control parameter for sheared tokamak turbulence. By reducing q/\epsilon, far higher temperature gradients can be achieved without triggering turbulence, in some instances comparable to those found experimentally in transport barriers. The zero-turbulence manifold is mapped out, in the zero-magnetic-shear limit, over the parameter space (\gamma_E, q/\epsilon, R/L_T), where \gamma_E is the perpendicular flow shear and R/L_T is the normalised inverse temperature gradient scale. The extent to which it can be constructed from linear theory is discussed.


Laser absorption in relativistically underdense plasmas by synchrotron radiation

Physical Review Letters 109 (2012) 245006

CS Brady, CP Ridgers, TD Arber, AR Bell, JG Kirk