Shear flow instability in a partially-ionized plasma sheath around a fast-moving vehicle

Sotnikov, V. I.; Mudaliar, S.; Genoni, T. C.; Rose, D. V.; Oliver, B. V.; Mehlhorn, T. A.
June 2011
Physics of Plasmas;Jun2011, Vol. 18 Issue 6, p062104
Academic Journal
The stability of ion acoustic waves in a sheared-flow, partially-ionized compressible plasma sheath around a fast-moving vehicle in the upper atmosphere, is described and evaluated for different flow profiles. In a compressible plasma with shear flow, instability occurs for any velocity profile, not just for profiles with an inflection point. A second-order differential equation for the electrostatic potential of excited ion acoustic waves in the presence of electron and ion collisions with neutrals is derived and solved numerically using a shooting method with boundary conditions appropriate for a finite thickness sheath in contact with the vehicle. We consider three different velocity flow profiles and find that in all cases that neutral collisions can completely suppress the instability.


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