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Gravity was the focus of
20th century astrophysics

For the 21st century, it will be
electromagnetism and plasmas in addition.

This forthcoming scientific revolution is presaged by the rapid pace of discoveries about our own star, the Sun, and its total plasma environment.

 Tarantula Nebula NASA
     References          Parameters         Research Sites for Plasma Astrophysics

Estimates of the filling fraction for ionized particles in the interstellar and intergalactic medium range from a few percent to 100 percent. As shown by Earth's ionosphere where the ionization fraction can be less than one percent, plasma processes can be important even for very low filling fraction. Plasmas are a combination of neutrals, ions, electrons and fields that have conductive and collective effects and where the interparticle dynamics is not dominated simply by binary collisions. This condition applies for most astrophysical systems. Even though space plasmas usually maintain quasi-neutrality to within less than about 1 part per million, there can still be substantial currents, convection, plasma flows, plasma waves and shocks and other plasma effects that interconnect regions over vast expanse as demonstrated by direct measurements of solar system space plasmas. Direct evidence of galactic magnetic fields are now available. Radio jets, interstellar shocks, stellar systems (especially neutron stars), and many astrophysical phenomena now appear to involve important plasma effects. Plasma astrophysics is the cutting edge of 21st century astrophysics and cosmology studies.

Plasma Astrophysics References

Wolfgang Kundt, Astrophysics: A New Approach, Springer-Verlag, 2005.
Goedbloed and S. Poedts, Principles of Magnetohydrodynamics: With Applications to Laboratory and Astrophysical Plasmas, Cambridge, 2004.
Toshi Tajima, Computational Plasma Physics: With Applications to Fusion & Astrophysics, Perseus, 2004.
Arnoldo O. Benz, Plasma Astrophysics: Kinetic Processes in Solar and Stellar Coronae, Kluwer, 2002.
D. De Young, The Physics of Extragalactic Radio Sources, Chicago, 2002.
A. Choudhuri, The Physics of Fluids and Plasmas: An Intro for Astrophysicists, Cambridge, 1999.
Jorg Buchner, Plasma Astrophysics and Space Physics, Kluwer Academic Publ., 1999.
Vinod Krishan, Astrophysical Plasmas and Fluids, Kluwer Academic Publ., 1999.
Toshiki Tajima and Kazunari Shibata, Plasma Astrophysics, Addison-Wesley, 1997.
Plasma Astrophysics and Cosmology, A. L. Peratt, ed., Kluwer, 1995.
Progress in New Cosmologies: Beyond the Big Bang, H. Arp, C. Keys, K. Rudnicki, editors, Plenum, 1993.
Anthony L. Peratt, Physics of the Plasma Universe, Springer-Verlag, 1992.
Hannes Alfven, Cosmic Plasma, D. Reidel, 1981.

For the scientist: Topical Group for Plasma Astrophysics, American Physical Society.

            Alternative Cosmology Group
            
Critique of Big Bang framework; Plasma Cosmology alternative by Eric Lerner.
            
Plasma Universe; "Plasma Universe" information and clarifications ("disclaimer") by Tony Peratt

Popularization:
    Eric Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened, Times Books, 1991.
            
(critiques and responses of Lerner's work are available at website above)
    Donald E. Scott , The Electric Sky, Portland: Mikamar Publishing, 2006.

Parameters for space and astrophysical plasmas
Adapted from T. Eastman, Transition regions in solar system and astrophysical plasmas
IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol. 18, No. 1, February, 1990, pp. 18-25
(not including stellar interiors).

Parameter
Solar Wind at 1 AU*
Outer Heliosphere
Planetary Boundary Layers
plasma density (cm-3)
5 - 60
0.001 - 0.1
0.05 - 50
thermal energy (eV)
1 - 50
0.1 - 10
5 - 5000
bulk speed (km/s)
200 - 800
10 - 100
10 - 1500
magnetic field (nanotessla)
1 - 20
< 0.1 - 1
1 - 100
neutral density (cm-3)
0
< 0.1
0
Parameter
Local Interstellar Medium
Stellar Winds
Hot, Ionized Medium
Warm, Ionized Medium
plasma density (cm-3)
0.01 - 1
0.1 - 1000
< 0.001 - 10
0.1 - 10
thermal energy (eV)
1 - 100
1 - 100
10 - 10,000
0.5 5 1
bulk speed (km/s)
1 - 30
200 - 4000
1 - 30
1 - 30
magnetic field (nanotessla)
< 0.1 - 1
0.5 1 50
0.01 - 10
0.01 - 2
neutral density (cm-3)
0.01 - 1
< 1
0
< 1
Parameter
Warm, Neutral Medium
Cool, Neutral Medium
Filaments, Cloud Edges,
Shock Interfaces
plasma density (cm-3)
0.01 - 1
0.01 - 100
< 1 - 1000
thermal energy (eV)
0.1 - 1
0.01 - 0.1
0.1 - 1000
bulk speed (km/s)
1 - 30
1 - 30
5 - 2000
magnetic field (nanotessla)
0.01 - 5
0.01 - 2
< 1- 1000
neutral density (cm-3)
0.1 - 10
1 - 10,000
1 - 10,000

Research Centers including Plasma Astrophysics
(alphabetical by country)