Measurement of Magnetic Cavitation Driven by Heat Flow in a Plasma

Phys Rev Lett. 2023 Jul 7;131(1):015101. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.131.015101.


We describe the direct measurement of the expulsion of a magnetic field from a plasma driven by heat flow. Using a laser to heat a column of gas within an applied magnetic field, we isolate Nernst advection and show how it changes the field over a nanosecond timescale. Reconstruction of the magnetic field map from proton radiographs demonstrates that the field is advected by heat flow in advance of the plasma expansion with a velocity v_{N}=(6±2)×10^{5} m/s. Kinetic and extended magnetohydrodynamic simulations agree well in this regime due to the buildup of a magnetic transport barrier.