AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 7 Laboratory Astrophysics
Poster, Monday, January 10, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[7.02] The Princeton Magnetorotational Instability Experiment: Overview and Initial Results

M.J. Burin, J. Goodman (Princeton Observatory), H. Ji, E. Schartman, W. Liu (PPPL)

Accretion disk turbulence is thought to be governed by the magnetorotational instability (MRI). To date however there has been no clear experimental demonstration of this instability, though it appears plausible to do so via a suitably designed laboratory apparatus. To this end a modified Taylor-Couette apparatus, to be filled with a liquid gallium alloy and placed within a magnetic field, has been designed and built. Here we discuss various engineering challenges of the design, and detail the controls, diagnostics, and data acquisition methods of the experiment. We also review some supportive numerical modeling work. In preparation for MRI studies with gallium we have tested the device with water. The data resulting from these initial studies bears upon recent work involving nonlinear hydrodynamic instabilities, which may be a competing mechanism in cool accretion disks. This work is supported by DoE, NSF, and NASA.

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