An analytic study of the perpendicularly propagating electromagnetic drift instabilities in the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment

Yansong Wang; Kulsrud, Russell; Ji, Hantao
December 2008
Physics of Plasmas;Dec2008, Vol. 15 Issue 12, p122105
Academic Journal
A local linear theory is proposed for a perpendicularly propagating drift instability driven by relative drifts between electrons and ions. The theory takes into account local cross-field current, pressure gradients, and modest collisions as in the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment [M. Yamada et al., Phys. Plasmas 4, 1936 (1997)]. The unstable waves have very small group velocities in the direction of the pressure gradient, but have a large phase velocity near the relative drift velocity between electrons and ions in the direction of the cross-field current. By taking into account the electron-ion collisions and applying the theory in the Harris sheet, we establish that this instability could be excited near the center of the Harris sheet and have enough e-foldings to grow to large amplitude before it propagates out of the unstable region. Comparing with the other magnetic reconnection related instabilities (lower-hybrid-drift instability, modified two-stream instability, etc.) studied previously, we believe the instability we found is a favorable candidate to produce anomalous resistivity because of its unique wave characteristics, such as electromagnetic component, large phase velocity, and small group velocity in the cross-current-layer direction.


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