Electron-scale electrostatic solitary waves and shocks: The role of superthermal electrons

S. Sultana, I. Kourakis

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The propagation of electron-acoustic solitary waves and shock structures is investigated in a plasma characterized by a superthermal electron population. A three-component plasma model configuration is employed, consisting of inertial ("cold") electrons, inertialess κ (kappa) distributed superthermal ("hot") electrons and stationary ions. A multiscale method is employed, leading to a Korteweg-de Vries (KdV) equation for the electrostatic potential (in the absence of dissipation). Taking into account dissipation, a hybrid Korteweg-de Vries-Burgers (KdVB) equation is derived. Exact negative-potential pulseand kink-shaped solutions (shocks) are obtained. The relative strength among dispersion, nonlinearity and damping coefficients is discussed. Excitations formed in superthermal plasma (finite κ) are narrower and steeper, compared to the Maxwellian case (infinite κ). A series of numerical simulations confirms that energy initially stored in a solitary pulse which propagates in a stable manner for large κ (Maxwellian plasma) may break down to smaller structures or/and to random oscillations, when it encounters a small-κ (nonthermal) region. On the other hand, shock structures used as initial conditions for numerical simulations were shown to be robust, essentially responding to changed in the environment by a simple profile change (in width).

Original languageBritish English
Article number100
JournalEuropean Physical Journal D
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


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