Ion-Acoustic Double-Layers in Plasmas with Nonthermal Electrons

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Luciana Antunes Rios, Brazilian Center for Physics Research, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Ricardo Magnus Osório Galvão, USP University of Sao Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
A double layer (DL) consists of a positive/negative Debye sheath, connecting two quasineutral regions of a plasma. These nonlinear structures can be found in a variety of plasmas, from discharge tubes to space plasmas. It has applications to plasma processing and space propulsion, and its concept is also important for areas such as applied geophysics.

In the present work we investigate the ion-acoustic double-layers (IADLs). It is believed that these structures are responsible for the acceleration of auroral electrons, for example. The plasma distributions near a DL are usually non-Maxwellian and can be modeled via a κ distribution function. In its reduced form, the standard κ distribution is equivalent to the distribution function obtained from the maximization of the Tsallis entropy, the q distribution. The parameters κ and q measure the deviation from the Maxwellian equilibrium ("nonthermality"), with -κ=1/(1-q) (in the limit κ → ∞ (q → 1) the Maxwellian distribution is recovered).

The existence of obliquely propagating IADLs in magnetized two-electron plasmas is investigated, with the hot electron population modeled via a κ distribution function [1]. Our analysis shows that only subsonic and rarefactive DLs exist for the entire range of parameters investigated. The small amplitude DLs exist only for τ=Th/Tc greater than a critical value, which grows as κ decreases. We also observe that these structures exist only for large values of δ=Nh0/N0, but never for δ=1. In our model, which assumes a quasineutral condition, the Mach number M grows as θ decreases (θ is the angle between the directions of the external magnetic field and wave propagation). However, M as well as the DL amplitude are reduced as a consequence of nonthermality. The relation of the quasineutral condition and the functional form of the distribution function with the nonexistence of IADLs has also been analyzed and some interesting results have been obtained. A more detailed discussion about this topic will be presented during the conference.


[1] L. A. Rios and R. M. O. Galvão, Phys. Plasmas 20, 112301 (2013).