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Suggested Citation:"Plasmoids.." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.
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Page 147

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BASIC PLASMA EXPERIMENTS 147 regime between collisionless and collisional plasmas. This is of importance for solar physics (in regard to coronal holes) and in ionospheric heating experiments. Double layers are responsible for localized particle acceleration and could also play an important role in the aurora. Shock Waves. Much laboratory work has been done on shocks in unmagnetized plasmas. Shocks also have been studied in pinches and exploding wires. However, careful experiments on Alfvénic shock waves in magnetized plasmas have yet to be done. Of particular interest is the propagation of large-amplitude (i.e., B B) magnetic pulses. Work would include studies of wave steepening, particle reflection and heating, and a search for a new class of shocks (the ''intermediate shock") that has been predicted but not yet observed. Such shock wave phenomena are of importance in space and astrophysical plasmas. Striated Plasmas. Plasmas with nonuniformities, such as density or temperature striations in the direction parallel to the magnetic field, are of fundamental interest. They occur, for example, in the ionosphere and in the aurora. If the gradient in the plasma properties is steep compared to the wavelengths of interest, these structures can trigger the mode conversion of whistler waves. The reflection, refraction, and interaction of waves with plasma structures that have steep gradients has not been studied in the laboratory and presents a difficult "plasma scattering" problem. Striated plasmas are not limited to those with density perturbations but also include local "hot spots" and magnetic field perturbations. Topics of interest include the interaction with lower hybrid waves, refraction and reflection, fast-particle generation, and minority-species heating. Flows in Magnetized Plasmas. It now is possible to generate highly magnetized laboratory plasmas in which the diameter of the plasma column is much larger than the ion Larmor radius (e.g., by factors of as much as 103) and in which magnetic Reynolds numbers of 104to 105 are attainable. (The magnetic Reynolds number is the time scale for transport of the magnetic field by the flowing plasma relative to the time scale for diffusion of the field due to the finite resistivity of the plasma.) By using multiple sources (so called "double-plasma" configurations), flowing plasmas can be generated with drift velocities comparable to the Alfvén wave velocity and with Mach numbers (i.e., plasma flow velocities relative to the ion sound speed) of the order of 500. Large currents can be entrained in these plasmas. Such situations are predicted to lead to shocks and turbulence. Insights into dynamo action (discussed below) are also likely to be achieved in such experiments. These experiments also would be relevant to the solar wind and to other solar and astrophysical processes. Plasmoids. "Plasmoids" are plasma structures that propagate as recognizable entities through a background plasma. Satellite data suggest that plasmoids may

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Plasma science is the study of ionized states of matter. This book discusses the field's potential contributions to society and recommends actions that would optimize those contributions. It includes an assessment of the field's scientific and technological status as well as a discussion of broad themes such as fundamental plasma experiments, theoretical and computational plasma research, and plasma science education.

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