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Name: Jan Egedal-Pedersen
Title(s): Associate Professor of Physics
Phone: (617) 253-8692
Assistant: Carol Arlington (617) 253-8106
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Area of Physics:
Plasmas—the ionized gas in lightning bolts, tube lights, and most of interstellar space—are excellent conductors of electrical currents. Plasmas interact strongly with electric and magnetic fields and are generally “frozen” to magnetic field lines. However, the plasma can occasionally and rapidly break free and allow the magnetic field to change topology. This process is called magnetic reconnection and occurs in such diverse environments as the sun, the Earth’s magnetotail, and in magnetic fusion devices. As examples, magnetic reconnection is responsible for coronal mass ejections (the most powerful explosions in our solar system) and the aurora borealis. An outstanding problem in reconnection theory is the discrepancy between the theoretical time scale predicted for magnetic reconnection and the much shorter observed time scale.
The physics of magnetic reconnection has been studied analytically and numerically for the past five decades. Although significant progress has been obtained the equations governing the plasma behavior are so complex that experimental data is required to determine the circumstance under which the often competing mechanisms dominates the physics. Egedal’s research group is providing direct experimental observation of the reconnection dynamics inside the Versatile Toroidal Facility (VTF), which is a large basic plasma physics device located at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at MIT. This ongoing research has led to the discovery of a new paradigm for reconnection where the process is catalyzed by the properties of the individually electron trajectories. This new theory is now successfully applied to in the interpretation of in situ measurements of reconnection obtained by spacecrafts in the Earth’s magnetotail.
Jan Egedal-Pedersen obtained his Master of Science from the Technical University of Denmark in 1994. He then attended Oxford University, where his Ph.D. research concentrated on the properties and measurements of fast ions in the world's largest nuclear fusion experiment, JET (also located in Oxfordshire). During this period he was supported as a Madam Curie Fellow under the European Human Mobility Program. In 1998, Egedal-Pedersen became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at MIT. In 2000 he was promoted to Research Scientist, managing the VTF research program on magnetic reconnection.
- Egedal J, Øieroset M, Fox W, and Lin RP, “In situ discovery of an electrostatic potential, trapping electrons and mediating fast reconnection in the Earth’s magnetotail”, (2005) Phys. Rev. Lett.94, 025006.
- Egedal J, Fox W, Porkolab M, Fasoli A, “Experimental evidence of fast reconnection via trapped electron motion”, ( 2004) Physics of Plasmas, 11, 2844 .
- Egedal J, Fasoli A and Nazemi J, “Dynamical Plasma Response during Driven Magnetic Reconnection”, (2003) Phys. Rev. Lett.90, 135003.
- Egedal J, “A drift kinetic approach to reconnection in an open cusp plasma”, (2002) Physics of Plasmas,9, 1095.
- Egedal J and Fasoli A, “Single-particle dynamics in collisionless magnetic reconnection”, (2001) Phys. Rev. Lett.,86, 5047.
- Egedal J, Fasoli A, Porkolab M and D Tarkowski, “Plasma generation and confinement in a toroidal magnetic cusp”, (2000) Rev. Sci. Instrum., 71, 3351.
Last updated: 04.01.2013