Large-scale numerical simulations of ion beam instabilities in unmagnetized astrophysical plasmas
2000 (English)In: Physics of Plasmas, ISSN 1070-664X, Vol. 7, no 12, 5171-5181 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Collisionless quasiperpendicular shocks with magnetoacoustic Mach numbers exceeding a certain threshold are known to reflect a fraction of the upstream ion population. These reflected ions drive instabilities which, in a magnetized plasma, can give rise to electron acceleration. In the case of shocks associated with supernova remnants (SNRs), electrons energized in this way may provide a seed population for subsequent acceleration to highly relativistic energies. If the plasma is weakly magnetized, in the sense that the electron cyclotron frequency is much smaller than the electron plasma frequency omega (p), a Buneman instability occurs at omega (p). The nonlinear evolution of this instability is examined using particle-in-cell simulations, with initial parameters which are representative of SNR shocks. For simplicity, the magnetic field is taken to be strictly zero. It is shown that the instability saturates as a result of electrons being trapped by the wave potential. Subsequent evolution of the waves depends on the temperature of the background protons T-i and the size of the simulation box L. If T-i is comparable to the initial electron temperature T-e, and L is equal to one Buneman wavelength lambda (0), the wave partially collapses into low frequency waves and backscattered waves at around omega (p). If, on the other hand, T-i much greater thanT(e) and L = lambda (0), two high frequency waves remain in the plasma. One of these waves, excited at a frequency slightly lower than omega (p), may be a Bernstein-Greene-Kruskal mode. The other wave, excited at a frequency well above omega (p), is driven by the relative streaming of trapped and untrapped electrons. In a simulation with L = 4 lambda (0), the Buneman wave collapses on a time scale consistent with the excitation of sideband instabilities. Highly energetic electrons were not observed in any of these simulations, suggesting that the Buneman instability can only produce strong electron acceleration in a magnetized plasma. [S1070-664X(00)02712-9].
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2000. Vol. 7, no 12, 5171-5181 p.
National CategoryEngineering and Technology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-49496OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-49496DiVA: diva2:270392