Properties of Alfven Waves with Transverse Scale on the Order of Skin-Depth
CALIFORNIA UNIV LOS ANGELES PLASMA PHYSICS GROUP
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It is widely perceived that shear Alfven waves propagate electromagnetic disturbances strictly along the ambient magnetic field. This feature is a consequence of the neglect of the parallel electric field, an approximation appropriate for large perpendicular wavelengths. However, for small transverse scales, the parallel electron currents cannot be neglected. This analytical study examines shear Alfven waves whose scale across the magnetic field is on the order of the electron skin-depth. This physical situation is motivated by the interest in spontaneous filamentation in magnetized plasmas, studies of axial relaxation of transport currents, and models of electron acceleration in space plasmas. At the basic level, this study addresses how a microscopic current channel spreads.
- Plasma Physics and Magnetohydrodynamics