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Proton deflectometry of a magnetic reconnection geometry

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  • L. Willingale
  • P. M. Nilson
  • M. C. Kaluza
  • A. E. Dangor
  • R. G. Evans
  • P. Fernandes
  • M. G. Haines
  • C. Kamperidis
  • R. J. Kingham
  • C. P. Ridgers
  • M. Sherlock
  • A. G. R. Thomas
  • M. S. Wei
  • Z. Najmudin
  • K. Krushelnick
  • S. Bandyopadhyay
  • M. Notley
  • S. Minardi
  • M. Tatarakis
  • W. Rozmus
Article number043104
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>9/04/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Physics of Plasmas
Issue number4
Number of pages5
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Laser-driven magnetic reconnection is investigated using proton deflectometry. Two laser beams of nanosecond duration were focused in close proximity on a solid target to intensities of I similar to 1x10(15) W cm(-2). Through the well known del n(e)x del T(e) mechanism, azimuthal magnetic fields are generated around each focal spot. During the expansion of the two plasmas, oppositely oriented field lines are brought together resulting in magnetic reconnection in the region between the two focal spots. The spatial scales and plasma parameters are consistent with the reconnection proceeding due to a Hall mechanism. An optimum focal spot separation for magnetic reconnection to occur is found to be approximate to 400 +/- 100 mu m. Proton probing of the temporal evolution of the interaction shows the formation of the boundary layer between the two expanding plasma plumes and associated magnetic fields, as well as an instability later in the interaction. Such laboratory experiments provide an opportunity to investigate magnetic reconnection under unique conditions and have possible implications for multiple beam applications such as inertial confinement fusion experiments.