Slow electrostatic fluctuations generated by beam-plasma interaction
Karen Pommois ; Francesco Valentini ; Oreste Pezzi ; et al. ; - ASI Sponsor
Jan - 2017
DOI: 10.1063/1.4973829

journal : Physics of Plasmas

Volume : 24 ; Issue : 1
type: Article Journal

Eulerian simulations of the Vlasov-Poisson equations have been employed to analyze the excitation of slow electrostatic fluctuations (with phase speed close to the electron thermal speed), due to a beam-plasma interaction, and their propagation in linear and nonlinear regimes. In 1968, O'Neil and Malmberg [Phys. Fluids 11, 1754 (1968)] dubbed these waves “beam modes.” In the present paper, previous analytical results on the beam modes in both linear and nonlinear regimes have been revisited numerically, pointing out that, when an electron beam is launched in a plasma of Maxwellian electrons and motionless protons and this initial equilibrium is perturbed by a monochromatic density disturbance, the electric field amplitude grows exponentially in time and then undergoes nonlinear saturation, associated with the kinetic effects of particle trapping and phase space vortex generation. Moreover, new numerical results give evidence that, when the initial density perturbation is setup in the form of a low amplitude random phase noise, the whole Fourier spectrum of wavenumbers is excited. As a result, the electric field profile appears as a train of isolated pulses, each of them being associated with a phase space vortex in the electron distribution function. At later times, these vortical structures tend to merge and, correspondingly, the electric pulses collapse, showing the tendency towards a time asymptotic configuration characterized by the appearance of electric soliton-like pulses. This dynamical evolution is driven by purely kinetic processes, possibly at work in many space and laboratory plasma environments.

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Notes : Acknowledgments This work has been supported by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana under the Contract No. ASI-INAF 2015-039-R.O “Missione M4 di ESA: Partecipazione Italiana alla fase diassessment della missione THOR.”