Nonlinear dynamics of multidimensional electrostatic excitations in nonthermal plasmas

G. Williams, I. Kourakis

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27 Scopus citations


Electrostatic solitary waves in plasmas are the focus of many current studies of localized electrostatic disturbances in both laboratory and astrophysical plasmas. Motivated by recent experimental observations, in which electrostatic solitary structures were detected in laser-plasma experiments, we have undertaken an investigation of the nonlinear dynamics of plasma evolving in two dimensions, in the presence of excess superthermal background electrons. We investigate the effect of a magnetic field on weakly nonlinear ion-acoustic waves. Deviation from the Maxwellian distribution is effectively modelled by the kappa model. A linear dispersion relation is derived, and a decrease in frequency and phase speed in both parallel and perpendicular modes can be seen, which is due to excess superthermal electrons, and which is stronger in the upper mode, and hardly noticeable in the lower (acoustic) mode. We show that ion-acoustic solitary waves can be generated during the nonlinear evolution of a plasma fluid, and their nonlinear propagation is governed by a Zakharov-Kuznetsov (ZK) type equation. A multiple scales perturbation technique is used to derive the ZK equation. Shock excitations can be produced if we allow for dissipation in the model, resulting in a Zakharov-Kuznetsov Burgers type equation. Different types of shock solutions and solitary waves are obtained, depending on the relation between the system parameters, and the effect of these on electrostatic shock structures is investigated numerically. A parametric investigation is conducted into the role of plasma nonthermality and magnetic field strength.

Original languageBritish English
Article number055005
JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


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