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Final Report Summary - LAB ASTRO JETS (Re-creating the physics of astrophysical jets in laboratory experiments)

This project aimed at studying the physics behind the formation of jets and outflows observed emerging from “protostars” (young stars in their formation phase), with a very unique approach: by reproducing their physics through scaled, laboratory experiments. This new research field is called Laboratory Plasma Astrophysics and it is based on the use of “plasma”, a hot, ionised gas which makes up 99% of our visible Universe.
The new generation of space and ground-based observing facilities such as ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile, are beginning to deliver “first light” of these jets with unprecedented resolution. In addition the use of state of the art numerical codes is essential to benchmark experimental data in order to provide further insights into complex physical processes that are sometimes difficult to measure or interpret experimentally. In the same way, experiments provide the precise initial conditions to the codes for predicting the dynamical behaviour of the plasma. Laboratory Plasma Astrophysics aims at creating a strong synergy between observations, numerical simulations and experiments.
The work performed in the past 3 years has advanced our understanding of several aspects of astrophysical jets, focused particularly in the formation and dynamics of jets from young stars. These jets are characterised by being highly supersonic (Mach number>20), highly collimated, and showing the formation of spectacular radiative-shocks as the supersonic flow interacts with the interstellar medium.

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