What is magnetic self-organization?
Self-organization here refers to the following process. A system is driven such that excess free energy excites instabilities (and possibly turbulence) that cause the system to relax to a lower energy state by rearranging (self-organizing) its large-scale structure. In magnetic self-organization the instabilities are magnetic (the magnetic field fluctuates in space or time); and large-scale quantities that are rearranged include the magnetic field, and possibly other quantities such as flow and pressure. Laboratory plasmas may be driven to a state of high magnetic energy by an applied electric field. Magnetospheric substorms may be driven by the solar wind; solar dynamo and coronal activity may be driven by convection and rotation; magnetic activity in accretion disks may be driven by rotation. The specifications of the drive differ between situations; and in some of the phenomena rearrangement of quantities other than the magnetic field may dominate. But, the phenomena strongly share underlying physics.
What are the major physics questions?
The topics, and sample questions the center will address are as follows (links to research plans are provided):
Dynamos and Flow Driven Magnetic Instabilities
Multi-Process and System Integration