Two new discoveries in astrophysics highlight the links between the key phenomena studied in the plasma focus and those that dominate the cosmos at large scales. First, the filaments that we are using in our fusion device also control the formation of structures in the universe. A new paper in the leading journal Astronomy and Astrophysics shows that a hierarchy of magnetized filaments-within-filaments leads to the formation of stars like our Sun. Physics Noble Laureate Hannes Alfven first hypothesized this process in 1972, and other researchers, including LPPFusion Chief Scientist Eric Lerner later elaborated on it.
Filaments within filaments in the constellation Orion show how magnetic fields from vast electric current compress plasma to produce stars like our Sun. The scale of 0.3 pc is about 1 light-year.
A second important example came from new observations of a powerful active galactic nucleus (AGN). Quasars and AGN are generally supposed to derive their enormous power from a black hole. Back in 1986 Lerner published a theory (again an elaboration on one of Alfven’s) that explained them as an electromagnetic phenomena, analogous to the plasmoid formation that occurs in a plasma focus device. In developing that theory, he found formulae that could predict how the plasma focus could be improved for fusion energy generation. These formulae led to LPPFusion’s present fusion energy project. Now, over 30 years later, ultra high-resolution images of the nucleus of galaxy 3C84 have given strong, if partial, confirmation of Lerner’s model.
In research published April 2 in Nature Astronomy and available online at Arxiv a large group of researchers using the RadioAstron space telescope together with ground-based radio telescopes showed that the jet of energy originating from the galaxy nucleus has a radius hundreds of times bigger than the hypothesized size of a black hole. The beam is about 0.06 light-year in radius and emerges from the nucleus as a cylinder, not a divergent cone. By contrast the hypothesized black hole is only 2.4×10-4 light years in radius.
In the 1986 paper, Lerner predicted that the radius of the emitting region of an AGN with the power of 3C84 would be around 0.03 light year in radius, just a factor of 2 smaller than the observed radius. In a plasma focus device, the equivalent emitting region of the ion and electron beams is only a few microns across.
The new observations are far from a complete confirmation of the theory as they are only of a single AGN. More observations of other AG and quasars are expected with the RadioAstron spacecraft. Its resolution, when used together with earth-based telescopes is equivalent to being able to read a book at a distance of 4,000 km.
A radio-telescope image of the core of galaxy 3C84 showing a hollow beam emitted from the core. The emitting core is hundreds of time bigger than a black hole, but just about the size predicted by Lerner’s 1986 plasma theory.