TITLE

Absolute and convective instabilities of parallel propagating circularly polarized Alfvén waves: Decay instability

AUTHOR(S)
Ruderman, M. S.; Simpson, D.
PUB. DATE
September 2004
SOURCE
Physics of Plasmas;Sep2004, Vol. 11 Issue 9, p4178
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
The absolute and convective instabilities of circularly polarized Alfvén waves propagating along an ambient magnetic field are studied. The approximation of ideal magnetohydrodynamics is used. The analysis is restricted to the decay instability that occurs when the sound speed is smaller than the Alfvén speed. In addition, it is assumed that the amplitude a of an unstable Alfvén wave (pump wave) is small. This assumption allows us to study the problem analytically using expansions in power series with respect to a. It is shown that there are quantities, Ul<0 and Ur>0, such that the pump wave is absolutely unstable in a reference frame moving with velocity U with respect to the rest plasma if UlUr, then the pump wave is convectively unstable. The expressions for Ul and Ur are found. The signaling problem is studied in a reference frame where the pump wave is convectively unstable. It is shown that spatially amplifying waves exist only when the signaling frequency is in two narrow symmetric frequency bands with the widths of the order of a. The implication of the obtained results on the interpretation of observational data obtained in space missions is discussed. It is shown that circularly polarized Alfvén waves propagating in the solar wind are convectively unstable in a reference frame of any spacecraft moving with the velocity not exceeding a few tens of km/s in the solar reference frame. The spatial amplification scale of these waves is very large, of the order of 1/6 a.u. In view of these results it is not surprising at all that evidence of the decay instability of Alfvén waves in the solar wind is sparse.
ACCESSION #
14400088

 

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