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Laboratory for the Modelling of Plasma Phenomena in Extreme Astrophysical Objects

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As of 30.01.2020

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General information

Name of the project:   Laboratory and numerical research of plasma phenomena in extreme astrophysical objects

Strategy for Scientific and Technological Development Priority Level: б

Goals and objectives

Research directions: Physics

Project objective: Solving fundamental open problems of astrophysics by conducting laboratory experiments that use boundary capabilities of laser and microwave generators.

The practical value of the study

  • Methods have been developed to model for modeling processes of formation of young stars in laboratory conditions which allows to add laboratory measurements to astrophysical observations and obtain new data on physical processes in young stars.
  • A testing stand has been created to conduct experiments in influence of biological objects by high-energy laser-plasma protons. We have shown capability of laser-plasma protons to communicate a dose of up to 10 Gray to the research object in one shot.
  • A methodology has been developed to irradiate the HeLa Kyoto cell culture and measuring the share of surviving cells.
  • A new experimental approach that allows to research interactions ultrasound (the ion Mach number up to 2.7) high density plasma flows (concentration of up to 1015 cm-3) with inhomogeneous magnetic field in laboratory conditions.
  • We have proposed a mechanism of cyclotron instability that explains the main properties of dynamic spectrum of pulses of own electromagnetic radiation at the plasma decay stage in a trap of the minimum B hexapole type. The observed instability is related to excitation of quasi-lateral a slow unusual waves as a result of interaction with hot electrons distributed between the electron cyclotron resonance heating zone and the trap's center.
  • Our researchers have proposed a model collision-free relativistic shock waves that allows describe acceleration of particles, their radiation, as well as generation and subsidence of magnetic field in a self-consistent way. The scope of applicability of the model includes gamma splashes and active galactic nuclei.
  • The Laboratory has conducted experimental and numerical research of processes of interaction between high velocity flows of dense plasma and a solid target in an external magnetic field in order to model physical processes developing in the base of accretion column during magnetospheric accretion of matter on young stars.
  • We have researched mechanisms of formation of collimated plasma flows in the presence of erosion capillary discharge. It has been demonstrated that plasma flow from the capillary forms a narrow plasma jet consisting of the capillary's material. We have investigated the correlation between the structure of the plasma flow (in particular, its length and divergence velocity as well as instabilities developing in the plasma flow) and pressure of the background gas. We have investigated the shape of the head part of a plasma jet depending on pressure of the surrounding gas. Obtained results can provide significant information on the ratio of densities of astrophysical jets and the interstellar medium.
  • Our researchers have studied mechanisms of formation of collimated plasma structures due to self-channeling of radiation in self-sustained plasma waveguides with reduced plasma density. It has been demonstrated that there is a possible mode of self-channeled propagation of Langmuir waves in such plasma waveguides which can serve as the basis for building new models of astrophysical jets.
  • We have conducted laboratory research of processes of interaction between dense plasma flows and a transversal external magnetic field. The main astrophysical problems related to such interactions – accretion of matter on compact stars possessing their own magnetic fields and splashes in the Sun and stars. The main attention was paid to processes developing in the region where pressure of the magnetic field is of the same order as the gas-dynamic pressure of the plasma flow. Using two interferometers we have obtained instant two-dimensional images of the spatial distribution of plasma at time periods between 0 and 100 ns after the beginning of formation of the plasma cloud in two planes: perpendicular and parallel to the direction of magnetic field lines. It has been demonstrated that as a result of interaction between the plasma flow directed perpendicularly to the direction of plasma divergence, a thin plasma layer forms that propagates across significant distances towards the depth of the volume occupied by the magnetic field (the thin plasma layer spreads in between magnetic field lines). This result, that has also been proven by numerical modeling, calls into question the model of falling of matter from the accretion disk onto the particle along magnetic field lines that is universally accepted in astrophysics (i. e. falling onto the magnetic poles) and allows to propose an alternative model of falling of matter onto the equator.
  • Our researchers have conducted works to modernize the PEARL laser-plasma stand. We have designed, produced, tested and launched a new scheme of the starting part of the femtosecond beam of the PEARL laser. We have designed and developed a scheme for distortion compensation for the wavefront of the femtosecond beam, including an additional vacuum module. We have researched a scheme for driving a femtosecond laser beam into the target chamber of the PEARL stand to prevent self-excitation of the laser.
  • We have conducted experiment in laser-plasma acceleration of protons using a modernized femtosecond scheme of the PEARL laser. Proton beams have been generated with characteristics suitable for usage in protonography. Experiments have been conducted in generation of laser plasma using the modernized scheme of nanosecond beam of the PEARL laser and research of its properties. Using protonography we researched generation of magnetic field during interaction of laser radiation and solid-state targets. We have researched the mode of laser plasma divergence that model various accretive astrophysical objects.      

Implemented results of research: We have developed an original pulse magnetic system with liquid nitrogen cooling that has magnetic field induction of up to 20 T. The system is used to conduct a wide range of research in the field of laser-plasma interactions and laboratory astrophysics.

Education and career development:

  • Internships have been organized for young scientists and students at international organizations: École Polytechnique (France), LLNL (USA), GSI (Germany), CNRS (France).
  • One doctoral dissertation and two candidate dissertations have been defended.
  • The Laboratory has launched the «Radiophysics» course for master degree students and postgraduates.
  • We have launched the special course «Powerful laser systems».

Other results:

  • Scientific links in the field of laboratory astrophysics have been established both with Russian institutes and at the international level.
  • We have conducted the international conference LaB-2017.
  • Creation of the PEARL interdisciplinary laser-plasma experimental complex in Russia with a petawatt power level that will allow to provide unique experiment parameters using several types of laser radiation and a system for generation of a strong external magnetic field.

Collaborations: École Polytechnique(France), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (USA), Institute of Heavy Ion Research (Germany), French National Centre for Scientific Research (France): joint research, conducting joint experiments in the topic of the project

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Albertazzi B., Ciardi A., Nakatsutsumi M., Vinci T., et al.
Laboratory Formation of a Scaled Protostellar Jet by Coaligned Poloidal Magnetic Field. Science 346(6207): 325–328 (2014).
Soloviev A., Burdonov K., Chen S.N., Eremeev A., et al.
Experimental Evidence for Short-Pulse Laser Heating of Solid-Density Target to High Bulk Temperatures. Scientific Reports 7(1): 12144 (2017).
Revet G. et al.
Laboratory Unraveling of Matter Accretion in Young Stars. Science Advances 3(11): e1700982 (2017).
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