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Argonne National Laboratory


Argonne Impacts State by State

Argonne’s collaborations in Colorado and across the United States have led to groundbreaking discoveries and development of new technologies that help meet the nation’s needs for sustainable energy, economic prosperity, and security.

CU Boulder astrophysicists use Argonne supercomputer to study turbulent plasmas

Surface image of the electron energy density from a snapshot of a 1 billion cell particle-in-cell simulation of driven kinetic turbulence in a plasma consisting of protons and relativistic electrons. (Image by Vladimir Zhdankin / Princeton University.)

Plasma — one of the four fundamental states of matter — is typically generated on Earth by such phenomena as lightning and electric sparks, and its dynamical processes play a significant role in many environments, from Earth to the sun and beyond. Until recently, scientists could only make inferences about many processes that occur in turbulent plasmas throughout the universe. However, astrophysicist Dmitri Uzdensky (University of Colorado Boulder), Vladimir Zhdankin, Gregory Werner and Mitchell Begelman are leveraging the power of supercomputers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to create detailed simulations of turbulent plasmas.

Discerning the physical mechanisms for energizing particles in these turbulent plasma processes is particularly important for understanding high-energy radiation emitted by relativistic plasmas swirling around extreme objects like black holes and neutron stars.

Using Argonne’s supercomputers, the team performs massively parallel 3D simulations that enable them to examine the viability of the mechanisms for explaining extremely energetic radiation that astrophysicists have observed.

Their results signal a pivotal discovery and promise to lead to further advances in the understanding of fundamental plasma physics processes, with important implications for modern high-energy astrophysics.

Argonne team uses digital tools to map’ Southwestern history

Taos Plateau at the Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico (Image by Warren Price Photography / Shutterstock.)

Using Geographic Information Systems analysis, a team of Argonne archaeologists and environmental scientists completed a multifaceted study of the San Luis Valley-Taos Plateau area of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Argonne’s charge was to determine which public lands within that area would be technically and environmentally suitable for solar energy development.

Researchers aggregated their data through grids of one square kilometer for an area of 9,786 square miles. The grids contain data on sites and landmarks that are archaeologically, historically, culturally and scenically important, and the potential threats to and opportunities for their future.

Argonne’s multi-faceted study is one of the first to portray how early Spanish and Mexican settlers — recipients of land grants from their governments — related to the land prior to U.S. government jurisdiction.

Project participants included the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Native American tribes and representatives from the National Heritage Areas for descendants of the Hispano community that had migrated into the area from Mexico.