Magnetic instability in a dilute circular rarefaction wave

M. E. Dieckmann, Gianluca Sarri, M. Borghesi

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The growth of magnetic fields in the density gradient of a rarefaction wave has been observed in simulations and in laboratory experiments. The thermal anisotropy of the electrons, which gives rise to the magnetic instability, is maintained by the ambipolar electric field. This simple mechanism could be important for the magnetic field amplification in astrophysical jets or in the interstellar medium ahead of supernova remnant shocks. The acceleration of protons and the generation of a magnetic field by the rarefaction wave, which is fed by an expanding circular plasma cloud, is examined here in form of a 2D particle-in-cell simulation. The core of the plasma cloud is modeled by immobile charges, and the mobile protons form a small ring close to the cloud's surface. The number density of mobile protons is thus less than that of the electrons. The protons of the rarefaction wave are accelerated to 1/10 of the electron thermal speed, and the acceleration results in a thermal anisotropy of the electron distribution in the entire plasma cloud. The instability in the rarefaction wave is outrun by a TM wave, which grows in the dense core distribution, and its magnetic field expands into the rarefaction wave. This expansion drives a secondary TE wave. (C) 2012 American Institute of Physics. []

Original languageEnglish
Article number122102
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages7
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


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