New Plasma Research to be Presented at American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics Annual Meeting


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

A hybrid format

This year’s meeting will have both online and in-person components. Oral sessions will be streamed live on the virtual meeting platform and virtual participants will be able to ask questions of presenters via text chat.

Scientific program

Browse a selection of conferences presented below or discover the scientific program in its entirety. All times are listed in US Pacific Time.

Press registration

News media with valid APS press credentials can register for the meeting for free. To request press accreditation, go to APS Online Newsroom. Attendees must register for the entire meeting to access the virtual meeting platform. Registration will remain open throughout the meeting.

Health and safety instructions

APS will no longer check vaccination status or test results. All attendees must obtain a negative COVID test before the meeting and monitor their personal health during the meeting. If a participant feels unwell for any reason or tests positive for COVID-19, they are responsible for refraining from any in-person proceedings. Please rate APS health and safety instructions for all the details.

Featured talks

Magnetic reconnection could fuel high-energy gamma flares from active galactic nuclei as in M87
Oct. 19, 11:54 a.m. PT, Ballroom 111 C and online

Active galactic nuclei (AGNs), the centers of galaxies with particularly active supermassive black holes, often emit bright gamma-ray flares with energies on the order of tera-electronvolts (TeV). 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 to TeV energies, which can then scatter light, producing the energetic gamma flares.

New 3D models show how plate-like tectonic 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 particularly strong magnetic fields, called magnetars, sometimes emit bursts of high-energy X-rays. The researchers speculated that movements of a magnetar’s surface, much like the movement of tectonic plates 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 the full picture of what is happening. Here, researchers will describe early models of the complex 3D dynamics of magnetar magnetic fields, showing how shifting and twisting magnetic fields on the surface of a magnetar can lead to X-ray instabilities and flares.

A new explanation for the high-energy particles of gamma-ray bursts
Oct. 19, 3:24 p.m. PT, Ballroom 111 C and online

Powerful explosions called gamma-ray bursts that are thought to come from exploding stars can accelerate charged particles to extremely high energies. Here, the 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 certain charged particles that reach Earth, called cosmic rays, have such high energies. Understanding the cosmic rays emitted by gamma-ray bursts could also help researchers better interpret other energetic astrophysical objects.

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 over a megajoule of fusion energy and achieved ignition – the point at which a fusion reaction generates enough energy to heat plasma faster than it cannot cool, potentially allowing a sustained reaction and more energy production. Subsequent attempts by the team to reproduce this result yielded lower amounts of energy due to degradation of the experimental setup. In this presentation, the team will explain how these experiments offer new data that will allow scientists to determine the conditions under which a plasma will ignite.

New model advances researchers’ understanding of electromagnetic effects of 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 the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. The explosion caused a large electromagnetic pulse in the Earth’s ionosphere which damaged some electrical infrastructure on the ground. In this talk, the researchers will present their model of the electromagnetic pulse signal from the Starfish Prime experiment. The model reproduced the main characteristics of the measured signal – a major advance in modeling the electromagnetic pulses caused by high-altitude nuclear explosions and understanding the consequences of these pulses.

About the Plasma Physics Division

The American Physical Society Plasma Physics Division 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 for describing plasmas, and the practical application of plasmas for energy, manufacturing, medicine, agriculture and national security. Controlled nuclear fusion research holds the promise of providing unlimited, clean and sustainable energy to the world.

About the American Physical Society

The American Physical Society is a not-for-profit organization that works to advance and disseminate knowledge in physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents more than 50,000 members, including physicists from academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and around the world.

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