News Release

New plasma research to be presented at Annual Meeting of American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics

Meeting Announcement

American Physical Society

Scientists from around the world will present new findings in plasma research at the 64th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics. The meeting will be held virtually and in person at the Spokane Convention Center in Spokane, Washington Oct. 17-21.

A Hybrid Format

This year’s meeting will have both online and in person components. The oral sessions will be livestreamed to the virtual meeting platform and virtual attendees will be able to ask presenters questions via text chat. 

Scientific Program

Browse a selection of featured talks below or explore the scientific program in its entirety. All times are listed in U.S. Pacific Time.

Press Registration

News media with valid APS press credentials may register for the meeting at no cost. To request press credentials, visit APS’ online press room. Attendees must register for the entire meeting to access the virtual meeting platform. Registration will remain open throughout the meeting. 

Health and Safety Guidelines

APS will no longer verify vaccination status or test results. All attendees are expected to obtain a negative COVID test before the meeting and monitor their personal health during the meeting. If an attendee does not feel well for any reason or tests positive for COVID-19, they are responsible for refraining from all in-person proceedings. Please review APS’ health and safety guidelines for complete details. 

Featured Talks

Magnetic Reconnection Could Power High-Energy Gamma-Ray Flares From Active Galactic Nuclei Like in M87 
Oct. 19, 11:54 a.m. PT, Ballroom 111 C and online

Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), the centers of galaxies with especially active supermassive black holes, often emit bright flares of gamma-rays with energies in the tera-electronvolt (TeV) range. But scientists don’t yet understand the cause of these high-energy flares. In this talk, researchers will discuss how magnetic reconnection, a process involved in producing solar flares on the sun, could explain TeV flares from an AGN like that of the galaxy M87. With analytical calculations and computer simulations, they will show that magnetic reconnection near a supermassive black hole can accelerate particles up to TeV energies, which can then scatter light, producing the energetic gamma-ray flares. 

New 3D Models Show How Tectonic Plate-Like Shifts on a Magnetar Surface Can Trigger X-Ray Flares 
Oct. 19, 2:12 p.m. PT, Ballroom 111 C and online 

Neutron stars with especially strong magnetic fields, called magnetars, sometimes release bursts of high-energy X-rays. Researchers have hypothesized that the motions of a magnetar’s surface, almost like tectonic plate movement on Earth, could lead to instabilities in the star’s magnetized exterior that trigger these flares. Some have modeled this process in two dimensions, but 2D models cannot capture a full picture of what is going on. Here, researchers will describe the first models of the complex 3D dynamics of magnetar magnetic fields, showing how shifting and twisting magnetic fields on a magnetar’s surface can lead to instabilities and eruptions of X-rays.

A New Explanation for High-Energy Particles From Gamma-Ray Bursts 
Oct. 19, 3:24 p.m. PT, Ballroom 111 C and online 

Powerful explosions called gamma-ray bursts thought to come from exploding stars can accelerate charged particles to extremely high energies. Here, researchers describe a new mechanism, involving cavities that form in plasmas under certain conditions, by which stellar explosions can accelerate particles to higher energies than previously thought. The new mechanism may help explain how some charged particles that reach Earth, known as cosmic rays, have these high energies. Understanding the cosmic rays emitted by gamma-ray bursts could help researchers better interpret other energetic astrophysical objects too. 

Nuclear Fusion Experiment Draws Roadmap for How to Achieve Ignition 
Oct. 20, 9:42 a.m. PT, Ballroom 111 A and online 

In August 2021, an experiment at the National Ignition Facility produced more than a megajoule of fusion energy and achieved ignition — the point at which a fusion reaction generates enough energy to heat plasma faster than it can cool down, potentially allowing for a sustained reaction and more energy generation. The team’s later attempts to replicate that result produced lower amounts of energy because of degradation in the experimental setup. In this presentation, the team will discuss how these experiments offer new data that will let scientists determine the conditions under which a plasma will ignite. 

New Model Advances Researchers' Understanding of Electromagnetic Effects from High-Altitude Nuclear Explosions 
Oct. 21, 9:54 a.m. PT, 401 ABC and online

In 1962, the United States conducted a nuclear bomb test, called Starfish Prime, high in Earth’s atmosphere, above the Pacific Ocean. The explosion caused a large electromagnetic pulse in the Earth’s ionosphere that damaged some electrical infrastructure on the ground. In this talk, researchers will present their model of the electromagnetic pulse signal from the Starfish Prime experiment. The model reproduced key features of the measured signal — a major step forward in modeling electromagnetic pulses caused by high-altitude nuclear explosions and understanding the consequences of these pulses. 

About the Division of Plasma Physics

The American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics works to advance and disseminate the knowledge, understanding and applications of plasmas — assemblages of charged particles of natural and laboratory origin. Plasma research encompasses the study of the fundamental interactions of particles and light in plasmas, the study of astrophysical plasmas from planetary cores to stars, new theoretical and computational techniques to describe plasmas and the practical application of plasmas for energy, manufacturing, medicine, agriculture and national security. Research in pursuit of controlled nuclear fusion holds the promise of providing limitless, clean, sustainable energy to the world.

About the American Physical Society

The American Physical Society is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities. APS represents more than 50,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories and industry in the United States and throughout the world.

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