Simulating the magnetic implosion of an atomic hydrogen cloud for the measurement of three-body association
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Three-body association (TBA) of hydrogen is the process by which three hydrogen atoms combine to form a hydrogen molecule and a free atom. The TBA reaction rate is not known precisely, yet its value plays a crucial role in the formation of the first stars. We propose an experiment to measure the TBA of hydrogen using a magnetic field to implode a cloud of atomic hydrogen to achieve high densities. In this work I present the results of a numerical simulation for the idealized case of non-interacting, point-like hydrogen atoms in a hexapole magnetic field. The results show that in this approximation, high atomic densities can be reached. Using existing TBA rate estimates, I show that observation of TBA on short time-scales is feasible with the range of atomic densities available in the proposed experiment. For a more accurate simulation, a closer look at atom-atom interactions and the thermal evolution of the cloud is needed.