Plasma Polarization Puzzler

Yvonne Carts-Powell

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers produced pairs of 80-fs, 800-nm pulses using a Ti:sapphire laser and a Michelson interferometer.

Scatterings imageFront row: Robert J. Gordon (left), Sima Singha and Tana Witt. Back row: Youbo Zhao (left) and Yaoming Liu.

Polarization can be a funny thing. Intuitively, one might expect light from a plasma to have random polarization. But sometimes plasmas are created in part by non-random processes that lead to some degree of polarization. For example, gamma ray bursts from a collapsing star are somewhat polarized, as is the output of a mercury lamp. Polarization can be a clue towards the processes that create the plasma.

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Publish Date: 01 February 2009

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