Phase space vortices in collisionless plasmas
- 1University of Oslo, Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, Box 1029 Blindern, N-0315 Oslo, Norway
- 2Risø National Laboratory, Department of Optics and Fluid Dynamics, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark
- 3University of Oslo, Physics Department, Box 1048 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway
- 4Department of Physics, Shizuoka University, Ohya 836, Shizuoka 422-8529, Japan
Abstract. Results on the formation and propagation of electron phase space vortices from laboratory experiments are summarized. The electron phase space vortices were excited in a strongly magnetized Q-machine plasma by applying a pulse to a segment of a waveguide surrounding the plasma. Depending on the temporal variation of the applied pulse, one or more phase space vortices can be excited, and their interaction can be followed in space and time. We were able to demonstrate, for instance, an irreversible coalescence of two such vortices. These results are extended by numerical simulations, showing how electron phase space vortices can also be formed by beam instabilities. Furthermore, a study of ion phase space vortices is performed by numerical simulations. Both codes allow for an externally applied magnetic field in three spatial dimensions. Ion phase space vortices are formed by the nonlinear saturation of the ion-ion two-stream instability, excited by injecting an ion beam at the plasma boundary. By following the evolution of the ion distribution of the velocity perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the injected ion beam, we find a significant ion heating in the direction perpendicular to the magnetic field associated with the ion phase space vortices being formed. The results are relevant, for instance, for the interpretation of observations by instrumented spacecraft in the Earth's ionosphere and magnetosphere.