Electron velocity distribution instability in magnetized plasma wakes and artificial electron mass
Author(s)Hutchinson, Ian H.
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The wake behind a large object (such as the moon) moving rapidly through a plasma (such as the solar wind) contains a region of depleted density, into which the plasma expands along the magnetic field, transverse to the flow. It is shown here that (in addition to any ion instability) a bump-on-tail which is unstable appears on the electrons' parallel velocity distribution function because of the convective non-conservation of parallel energy (drift-energization). It arises regardless of any non-thermal features on the external electron velocity distribution. The detailed electron distribution function throughout the wake is calculated by integration along orbits; and the substantial energy level of resulting electron plasma (Langmuir) turbulence is evaluated quasi-linearly. It peaks near the wake axis. If the mass of the electrons is artificially enhanced, for example in order to make numerical simulation feasible, then much more unstable electron distributions arise; but these are caused by the unphysical mass ratio.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Plasma Science and Fusion Center
Journal of Geophysical Research
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Hutchinson, I. H. “Electron velocity distribution instability in magnetized plasma wakes and artificial electron mass.” Journal of Geophysical Research 117, no. A3 (March 7, 2012).
Author's final manuscript