Pair plasma instability in homogeneous magnetic guide fields

M. J. Pueschel (Corresponding author), R. D. Sydora, P. W. Terry, B. Tyburska-Pueschel, M. Francisquez, F. Jenko, B. Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Pair plasmas, collections of both matter and antimatter particles of equal mass, represent a paradigm for the study of basic plasma science, and many open questions exist regarding these unique systems. They are found in many astrophysical settings, such as gamma-ray bursts, and have recently also been produced in carefully designed laboratory experiments. A central research topic in plasma physics is instability; however, unlike their more common ion-electron siblings, pair plasmas are generally thought to be stable to cross field pressure gradients in homogeneous magnetic fields. It is shown here by means of kinetic full-f simulations that, when a pressure gradient is first established, the Gradient-driven Drift Coupling mode is destabilized and becomes turbulent. Force balance is eventually achieved by a combination of flattened pressure profiles due to turbulent transport and establishment of a magnetic field gradient, saturating the growth. During the unstable phase, key physics can be captured by a δf gyrokinetic description, where it is shown analytically and numerically that parallel particle motion results in a coupling of all electromagnetic field components. A fluid model derived therefrom accurately predicts linear eigenmodes and is used to resolve global profile effects. For laser-based electron-positron plasma experiments, prompt instability is predicted with growth times much shorter than plasma lifetimes. Similarly, growth rates are calculated for the planned APEX experiment as well as gamma-ray burst scenarios, suggesting that the instability may contribute to the early evolution of these systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102111
Number of pages9
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Volume27
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

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