Stability and waves of transonic laboratory and space plasmas
Author: Goedbloed, J.P.
Source: Space Science Reviews, Volume 107, Numbers 1-2, April 2003 , pp. 353-360(8)
Abstract:The properties of magnetohydrodynamic waves and instabilities of laboratory and space plasmas are determined by the overall magnetic confinement geometry and by the detailed distributions of the density, pressure, magnetic field, and background velocity of the plasma. Consequently, measurement of the spectrum of MHD waves (MHD spectroscopy) gives direct information on the internal state of the plasma, provided a theoretical model is available to solve the forward as well as the inverse spectral problems. This terminology entails a program, viz. to improve the accuracy of our knowledge of plasmas, both in the laboratory and in space. Here, helioseismology (which could be considered as one of the forms of MHD spectroscopy) may serve as a luminous example. The required study of magnetohydrodynamic waves and instabilities of both laboratory and space plasmas has been conducted for many years starting from the assumption of static equilibrium. Recently, there is a outburst of interest for plasma states where this assumption is violated. In fusion research, this interest is due to the importance of neutral beam heating and pumped divertor action for the extraction of heat and exhaust needed in future tokamak reactors. Both result in rotation of the plasma with speeds that do not permit the assumption of static equilibrium anymore. In astrophysics, observations in the full range of electromagnetic radiation has revealed the primary importance of plasma flows in such diverse situations as coronal flux tubes, stellar winds, rotating accretion disks, and jets emitted from radio galaxies. These flows have speeds which substantially influence the background stationary equilibrium state, if such a state exists at all. Consequently, it is important to study both the stationary states of magnetized plasmas with flow and the waves and instabilities they exhibit. We will present new results along these lines, extending from the discovery of gaps in the continuous spectrum and low-frequency Alfvén waves driven by rotation to the nonlinear flow patterns that occur when the background speed traverses the full range from sub-slow to super-fast.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2003-04-01