Shock creation and particle acceleration driven by plasma expansion into a rarefied medium

Gianluca Sarri, M.E. Dieckmann, Yannis Kourakis, Marco Borghesi

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31 Citations (Scopus)


The expansion of a dense plasma through a more rarefied ionized medium is a phenomenon of interest in various physics environments ranging from astrophysics to high energy density laser-matter laboratory experiments. Here this situation is modeled via a one-dimensional particle-in-cell simulation; a jump in the plasma density of a factor of 100 is introduced in the middle of an otherwise equally dense electron-proton plasma with an uniform proton and electron temperature of 10 eV and 1 keV, respectively. The diffusion of the dense plasma, through the rarefied one, triggers the onset of different nonlinear phenomena such as a strong ion-acoustic shock wave and a rarefaction wave. Secondary structures are detected, some of which are driven by a drift instability of the rarefaction wave. Efficient proton acceleration occurs ahead of the shock, bringing the maximum proton velocity up to 60 times the initial ion thermal speed. (C) 2010 American Institute of Physics. [doi: 10.1063/1.3469762]
Original languageEnglish
Article number082305
Pages (from-to)082305
Number of pages1
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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