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Overview of the Research Unit for Astro-fusion Plasma Physics(AFP)

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The purpose and activities of the IRCC-AFP research unit

More than 99% of the materials that we know of in the universe are in the plasma state. Therefore plasma physics offers basic principles for understanding various phenomena occurring in the universe. Plasma physics also provides the fundamental research engine in developing the fusion reactor, which is expected to be the ultimate energy source for human beings.

The National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS) and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) are two representative institutes in the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) for plasma physics research. These institutes have been conducting international research collaborations based on their worldwide research networks. For the purpose of strengthening such international collaboration activities with the emphasis on promoting the interdisciplinary scope of research, a new research unit of IRCC-AFP (International Research Collaboration Center, Astro-fusion Plasma Physics research unit) was established.

A new direction of the research activity of the Integrated Plasma Physics, which merges fusion plasma physics and astronomical plasma physics, is becoming more active recently in the United States and in Europe as well. The Max-Planck Society established the Max-Planck Center for the plasma physics together with Princeton University in the United States. This Max-Planck Center is an official (virtual) institute in society and has the role of international research collaborations. IRCC-AFP is promoting new research activities of the Integral Plasma Physics in collaboration with the Max-Planck Center for plasma physics as an international network involving three regions in the world.

An important elements of the research activities of IRCC-AFP are the IRCC-AFP fellows who are young scientists employed in the IRCC for the exclusive role of international research collaboration in plasma physics. This fellow is selected by the open job call under the collaboration of IRCC-AFP with Princeton University and the Max-Planck institutes. The main work place of this fellow is either in Princeton University or the Max-Planck institutes where he/she will be devoted to the role of promoting the collaboration research between Japan and the United States or Europe. Another part of IRCC-AFP research activities is establishing the international research collaboration network for plasma physics including domestic collaboration networks together with researchers in Japanese Universities who are active in international collaboration.



(1) International research collaboration with Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics

International Specially Appointed Research Employee (Ph.D.): Fabien Widmer

Supervisor 1: Associate Professor Mami Machida (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)

Supervisor 2: Dr. Emanuele Poli (Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics)

Main research location: Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (Garching, Germany)

Fabien Widmer

It is known that strong interactions exist in astrophysical plasmas and fusion plasmas among turbulence, magnetic reconnection phenomena and dynamics of magnetic island formation. It is because the non-linear interactions and exchanges of energy take place between the microscopic turbulent processes and the large-scale structural formation of the magnetic islands. We will use the 5D gyrokinetic framework, a reduced kinetic model, which is the most advanced theory of micro-turbulence in magnetic fusion plasmas, for studying important physics problems in these phenomena such as 1) the analysis of the dynamic processes triggering the magnetic reconnection phenomena, 2) the interactions between the turbulent processes and magnetic island formation.More details [PDF file / 36KB]


(2) International research collaboration with the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University

International Specially Appointed Research Employee (Ph.D.): Arno Vanthieghem

Supervisor 1: Prof. Yasushi Todo (National Institute for Fusion Science)

Supervisor 2: Prof. Anatoly Spitkovsky (Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University)

Main research location: Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University

Arno Vanthieghem

Nonthermal emission observed in astrophysical objects such as supernova remnants bears witness that collisionless shock waves efficiently channel energy from a low entropy unshocked plasma to accelerated particle distributions. Accelerated relativistic electrons radiate synchrotron emission in the self-generated magnetic field, while baryons populate the bulk of galactic cosmic rays. It is thus paramount to shed light on the intertwined, multi-scale mechanisms that underpin particle acceleration and its backreaction on plasma instabilities. We tackle this highly nonlinear multiscale problem using fully kinetic simulations in combination with analytical models to characterize the shock dynamics and particle acceleration in various regimes of magnetization and bulk velocity of the outflow.More details [PDF file / 58KB]


(3) Japan-US-German international cooperation


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