Turbulence is a phenomenon found throughout space and astrophysical plasmas. It plays an important role in solar coronal heating, acceleration of the solar wind, and heating of the interstellar medium. Turbulence in these regimes is dominated by Alfvén waves. Most turbulence theories have been established using ideal plasma models, such as incompressible MHD. However, there has been no experimental evidence to support the use of such models for weakly to moderately collisional plasmas which are relevant to various space and astrophysical plasma environments. We present the first experiment to measure the nonlinear interaction between two counterpropagating Alfvén waves, which is the building block for astrophysical turbulence theories. We present here four distinct tests that demonstrate conclusively that we have indeed measured the daughter Alfvén wave generated nonlinearly by a collision between counterpropagating Alfvén waves.

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Note that the nonlinear term discussed here generates a y-component of the daughter Alfvén wave magnetic field. To maintain incompressibility and a divergence-free magnetic field, the pressure gradient term in Eq. (1) generates a complementary x-component of the magnetic field of the daughter Alfvén wave.

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