Toward the realization of electromagnetic collapse
Kapitza Institute of Physical Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Kosygina 2, Moscow, 117334, Russian Federation
The problems along the road to achieving an extreme compression of plasma in high-current channels are analyzed. The present ideas regarding the physical nature of the equilibrium of a plasma in a pinch system are outlined. The problem of the macroscopic stability of a relativistic pinch is discussed. Solving this problem requires deriving a relativistic two-fluid electromagnetic hydrodynamics. The dynamics of the contraction of pinches, in whose terminal stage radiation plays a particularly important role, is analyzed. The system can radiate off more energy than it acquires by heat evolution, and if it does the result should be a collapse. The practical significance of achieving electromagnetic collapse goes beyond the fusion problem, and involves such fields as the collective acceleration of charges, the production of ``cumulative'' jets, and the development of intense sources of induced radiation over a broad spectral range, from microwaves to $\gamma$ rays. For physicists, pinches represent a unique opportunity for producing and studying in the laboratory matter in an extreme state such as nature furnishes only deep in the interiors of stars.