Large amplitude relativistic plasma waves

Coffey, Timothy
May 2010
Physics of Plasmas;May2010, Vol. 17 Issue 5, p052303
Academic Journal
Relativistic, longitudinal plasma oscillations are studied for the case of a simple water bag distribution of electrons having cylindrical symmetry in momentum space with the axis of the cylinder parallel to the velocity of wave propagation. The plasma is required to obey the relativistic Vlasov–Poisson equations, and solutions are sought in the wave frame. An exact solution for the plasma density as a function of the electrostatic field is derived. The maximum electric field is presented in terms of an integral over the known density. It is shown that when the perpendicular momentum is neglected, the maximum electric field approaches infinity as the wave phase velocity approaches the speed of light. It is also shown that for any nonzero perpendicular momentum, the maximum electric field will remain finite as the wave phase velocity approaches the speed of light. The relationship to previously published solutions is discussed as is some recent controversy regarding the proper modeling of large amplitude relativistic plasma waves.


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