Low Frequency Oscillations in A Plasma with Spatially Variable Field-Aligned Flow
Scales, Wayne A.
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The effects of a transverse gradient in the plasma flow velocity parallel to the ambient magnetic field are analyzed. A transverse velocity gradient in the parallel ion flow, even in small magnitude, can increase the parallel phase speed of the ion-acoustic waves sufficiently to reduce ion Landau damping. This results in a significantly lower threshold current for the current driven ion acoustic instability. Ion flow gradients can also give rise to a new class of ion cyclotron waves via inverse cyclotron damping. A broadband wave spectrum with multiple cyclotron harmonics is possible. A combination of the multiple cyclotron harmonic waves can result in spiky electric field structures with their peaks separated by an ion cyclotron period. A spatial gradient in the parallel electron flow is also considered but it is found to play a minimal role in the low frequency regime. Relevance of these to natural plasma environments is discussed. (C) 2002 American Institute of Physics.