Nonlinear evolution of Vlasov equilibria

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

In this work, we investigate numerically the evolution of perturbed Vlasov equilibria. according to the full nonlinear system with particular emphasis on analyzing the asymptotic states towards which the system evolves. The simulations are carried out with the numerical code that we have implemented on the Cray X-MP of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and which is based on the splitting scheme algorithm. Maxwellian symmetric and one-sided bump-on-tail and two-stream type of equilibrium distributions are considered: the only distribution which seems to evolve towards a BGK equilibrium is the two-stream while the asymptotic states for the other distributions are better described by superpositions of possible BGK modes. Perturbations with wave-like dependence in space and both symmetric and non-symmetric dependence on velocity are considered.

For weakly unstable modes, the problem of the discrepancy between different theoretical models about the scaling of the saturation amplitude with the growth rate is addressed for the first time with the splitting scheme algorithm. The results are in agreement with the ones obtained in the past with less accurate algorithms and do not exhibit spurious numerical effects present in those.

Finally, collisions are included in the splitting scheme in the form of the Krook model and some simulations are performed whose results are in agreement with existing theoretical models.