Observations of magnetic flux compression in jet impact experiments
The astrophysical jet experiment at Caltech generates a T=2–5 eV, n=10^(21)–10^(22) m^(−3) plasma jet using coplanar disk electrodes linked by a poloidal magnetic field. A 100 kA current generates a toroidal magnetic field; the toroidal field pressure inflates the poloidal flux surface, magnetically driving the jet. The jet travels at up to 50 km/s for ∼20–25 cm before colliding with a cloud of initially neutral gas. We study the interaction of the jet and the cloud in analogy to an astrophysical jet impacting a molecular cloud. Diagnostics include magnetic probe arrays, a 12-channel spectroscopic system and a fast camera with optical filters. When a hydrogen plasma jet collides with an argon target cloud, magnetic measurements show the magnetic flux compressing as the plasma jet deforms. As the plasma jet front slows and the plasma piles up, the density of the frozen-in magnetic flux increases.
© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Received: 15 June 2010. Accepted: 2 September 2011. Published online: 30 September 2011. This work was supported by DOE.