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Guide-Field Reconnection on MAIZE

We were back at the Univeristy of Michigan, Ann Arbor collaborating with the MAIZE team on some new guide-field reconnection experiments over the past two weeks. Thomas, Jack, Simran, and Lansing spent the fortnight running experiments with our new tilted array hardware. Instead of trying to apply a guide-field with an externally-powered Helmholtz coil–as we did last year–our new hardware embeds the vertical component of the field directly into the ablated flows.

Thomas and the MAIZE team installing the load hardware before a shot. (Clockwise from bottom: Joe Chen (UMich), Simran Chowdhry (MIT), Lansing Horan IV (MIT), Thomas Varnish (MIT), George Dowhan (UMich), and Jack Hare (MIT).)

Using MAIZE, we wanted to study how a vertical magnetic field--this time embedded into the plasma flows--affected magnetic reconnection. Here, in this long exposure image, are two tilted exploding wire arrays in our newly designed experimental hardware.

Additionally, we designed and implemented a new simultaneous end-on and side-on interferometry system on the MAIZE facility. This new diagnostic enabled electron density measurements down and along the reconnection layers we wanted to study. We also tested some new counterwound inductive (B-dot) probes that Lansing, Emily, and Simran had been working on as part of one of our group’s UROP projects.

This trip was also an opportunity to test some of the new counter-wound inductive (B-dot) probes Lansing, Emily, and Simran had been working on.

Now that we’re back in Cambridge, the team will be hard at work analyzing the data ready for various conferences this summer and into the fall.

We are very grateful for the support provided by the MAIZE team (especially George Dowhan and Joe Chen, who helped an enourmous amount with the experimental work). We are also very grateful to the NSF and NNSA for supporting this research through award PHY2108050, “Developing Pulsed Power Driven Turbulent Reconnection Platforms”.

Simran and Lansing had their first hands-on experience with a pulsed-power experiment on the trip. Both of them even fired a couple of shots too!

Since this was a two-week long research trip, Thomas, Simran, and Lansing also got the opportunity to explore a little bit of Michigan on the weekend!

We're pleased to report that none of the team were eaten by any of the rather large tigers we found whilst wandering around Detroit looking for pizza.

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