Edinburgh scientists have devised a new theory explaining turbulent plasmas - high energy, electrically conducting fluids.
Their work could inform potential applications, from tokamak fusion reactors to new understanding of magnetic fields in cosmology.
Researchers in the School of Physics and Astronomy have developed the new mathematical description of the energy flow of a turbulent plasma.
They also show how the loss of energy from a plasma can be controlled.
Their latest study, carried out using the ARCHER supercomputer, has led to the first simplified formula to quantify these effects in plasmas affected by magnetic fields.
The work also offers new insights into energy flows between fluids and magnetic systems, aiding understanding of how magnetic energy can grow at large scales in a plasma.
The latest study, published in Physical Review Letters, builds on an earlier study published in Physical Review Rapid Communication.
This is a fundamental step toward potential practical applications in areas as varied as controlling the plasma in a tokamak fusion reactor, understanding the presence and growth of magnetic fields in galaxies, galaxy clusters and even at the scale of the entire Universe.