The effects of charge exchange on waves propagating in weakly ionized plasmas are discussed. It is shown that for low-frequency processes, ions and neutrals should be treated as a single fluid with some effective charge on all of them. We have derived a new momentum equation which should be used in such an environment. As a result, the low-frequency magnetic waves can propagate even if particles are not magnetized, which is entirely due to the charge exchange and the fact that it is not possible to separate particles into two different populations as charged and neutral species. So there can be no friction force between ions and neutrals in the usual sense. The mean force per particle is proportional to the ionization ratio n_i/(n_i+ n_n). Regarding the application of the theory to the Alfvén wave propagation in the lower solar atmosphere, the results predict that the plane of displacement of the fluid must change by 90 degrees when an Alfvén wave propagates from the area where particles are un-magnetized (photosphere) to the area where they are magnetized (chromosphere). Because of the most accurate cross sections which we have here, it is possible to very accurately determine altitudes at which such rotation of the Alfvén wave takes place.

Authors: J. Vranjes, M. Kono, M. Luna
Projects: None

Publication Status: To appear in MNRAS
Last Modified: 2015-11-04 12:20

Inhomogeneous plasmas and fluids contain energy stored in inhomogeneity and they naturally tend to relax into lower energy states by developing instabilities or by diffusion. But the actual amount of energy in such inhomogeneities has remained unknown. In the present work the amount of energy stored in a density gradient is calculated for several specific density profiles in a cylindric configuration. This is of practical importance for drift wave instability in various plasmas, and in particular in its application in models dealing with the heating of solar corona because the instability is accompanied with stochastic heating, so the energy contained in inhomogeneity is effectively transformed into heat. It is shown that even for a rather moderate increase of the density at the axis in magnetic structures in the corona by a factor 1.5 or 3, the amount of excess energy per unit volume stored in such a density gradient becomes several orders of magnitude greater than the amount of total energy losses per unit volume (per second) in quiet regions in the corona. Consequently, within the life-time of a magnetic structure such energy losses can easily be compensated by the stochastic drift wave heating.

The Alfvén wave is analyzed in case of one quasineutral plasma propagating with some constant speed v0 through another static quasineutral plasma. A dispersion equation is derived describing the Alfvén wave coupled with the flow driven mode ω=kv0 and solutions are discussed analytically and numerically. The usual solutions for two oppositely propagating Alfvén waves are substantially modified due to the flowing plasma. More profound is modification of the solution propagating in the negative direction with respect to the magnetic field and the plasma flow. For a large enough flow speed (exceeding the Alfvén speed in the static plasma), this negative solution may become non-propagating, with frequency equal to zero. In this case it represents a spatial variation of the electromagnetic field. For greater flow speed it becomes a forward mode, and it may merge with the positive one. This merging of the two modes represents the starting point for a flow-driven instability, with two complex-conjugate solutions. The Alfvén wave in interpenetrating plasmas is thus modified and coupled with the flow-driven mode and this coupled mode is shown to be growing when the flow speed is large enough. The energy for the instability is macroscopic kinetic energy of the flowing plasma. The dynamics of plasma particles caused by such a coupled wave still remains similar to the ordinary Alfvén wave. This means that well-known stochastic heating by the Alfvén wave may work, and this should additionally support the potential role of the Alfvén wave in the coronal heating.