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Title: Spontaneous decay of periodic magnetostatic equilibria

In order to understand the conditions which lead a highly magnetized, relativistic plasma to become unstable, and in such cases how the plasma evolves, we study a prototypical class of magnetostatic equilibria where the magnetic field satisfies ∇ x B = αB , where \alpha is spatially uniform, on a periodic domain. Using numerical solutions we show that generic examples of such equilibria are unstable to ideal modes (including incompressible ones) which are marked by exponential growth in the linear phase. We characterize the unstable mode, showing how it can be understood in terms of merging magnetic and current structures, and explicitly demonstrate its instability using the energy principle. Following the nonlinear evolution of these solutions, we find that they rapidly develop regions with relativistic velocities and electric fields of comparable magnitude to the magnetic field, liberating magnetic energy on dynamical timescales and eventually settling into a configuration with the largest allowable wavelength. Furthermore, these properties make such solutions a promising setting for exploring the mechanisms behind extreme cosmic sources of gamma rays.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1326977
Report Number(s):
SLAC-PUB--16715
Journal ID: ISSN 0031-9007; PRLTAO
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-76SF00515; AST 12-12195
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physical Review Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 115; Journal Issue: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 0031-9007
Publisher:
American Physical Society (APS)
Research Org:
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC), Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS