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Aurora Cossairt

Plasma turbulence is a pervasive phenomenon throughout our universe and is known to play an important role in many astrophysical processes, including the formation of stars and galaxies and the production of cosmic rays. However, even its simplest form (compressible magnetized turbulence) is not well understood, and the lack of a universal theory of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) limits our ability to study other interesting astrophysical phenomena. In order to study magnetized turbulence, we must turn to large scale computer simulations which can solve the MHD equations numerically. Using such simulations, we can study energy transfers in turbulent plasma systems, such as how magnetic energy is transferred to kinetic energy and vice versa and whether energy cascades are present. There are multiple ways to formally define the kinetic energy density, and one's choice of this mathematical formalism may impact the conclusions drawn by data analysis. The goal of this project is to understand how the chosen formalism affects the resulting calculation of energy transfer rates and the energy power spectrum. We test two possible mathematical formalisms against various conditions—focusing on the compressibility but also including multiple magnetic field configurations and forcing patterns—to determine how they affect our analysis of scale-to-scale energy transfer. We compare our results with those given by Grete, et. al. (2017). Our results will improve the accuracy of future simulation analysis, thus advancing efforts to better understand how compressible magnetized turbulence shapes our universe.