Nonlinear electron magnetohydrodynamics physics. II. Wave propagation and wave-wave interactions

Urrutia, J. M.; Stenzel, R. L.; Strohmaier, K. D.
April 2008
Physics of Plasmas;Apr2008, Vol. 15 Issue 4, p042308
Academic Journal
The propagation of low-frequency whistler modes with wave magnetic field exceeding the ambient field is investigated experimentally. Such nonlinear waves are excited with magnetic loop antennas whose axial field is aligned with the background magnetic field and greatly exceeds its strength. The oscillatory antenna field excites propagating wave packets with field topologies alternating between whistler spheromaks and mirrors. The propagation speed of spheromaks is observed to decrease with amplitude while that of mirrors increases with amplitude. The field distribution varies with amplitude: Spheromaks contract axially while mirrors spread out compared to linear whistlers. Consequently, the peak magnetic field and current densities in spheromaks exceed that of mirrors. Wave-wave interactions of nonlinear whistler modes is also studied. Counterpropagating spheromaks collide inelastically and form a stationary field-reversed configuration. The radius of the toroidal current ring depends on current and can be larger than that of the loop antenna. A tilted field-reversed configuration precesses in the direction of the electron drift. The free magnetic energy is dissipated in the plasma volume and converted into electron heat.


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