On Ponderomotive Effects Induced by Alfvén Waves in Inhomogeneous 2.5D MHD Plasmas

Jonathan Thurgood, James McLaughlin

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Where spatial gradients in the amplitude of an Alfvén wave are non-zero, a nonlinear magnetic-pressure gradient acts upon the medium (commonly referred to as the ponderomotive force). We investigate the nature of such a force in inhomogeneous 2.5D MHD plasmas by analysing source terms in the nonlinear wave equations for the general case of inhomogeneous B and ρ, and consider supporting nonlinear numerical simulations. Our equations indicate that there are two distinct classes of ponderomotive effect induced by Alfvén waves in general 2.5D MHD, each with both a longitudinal and transverse manifestation. i) Geometric effects: Gradients in the pulse geometry relative to the background magnetic field cause the wave to sustain cospatial disturbances, the longitudinal and transverse daughter disturbances – where we report on the transverse disturbance for the first time. ii) ∇(c A) effects: Where a pulse propagates through an inhomogeneous region (where the gradients in the Alfvén-speed profile c_A are non-zero), the nonlinear magnetic-pressure gradient acts to accelerate the plasma. Transverse gradients (phase mixing regions) excite independently propagating fast magnetoacoustic waves (generalising the result of Nakariakov, Roberts, and Murawski (Solar Phys. 175, 93, 1997)) and longitudinal gradients (longitudinally dispersive regions) perturb along the field (thus creating static disturbances in β=0, and slow waves in β≠0). We additionally demonstrate that mode conversion due the nonlinear Lorentz force is a one-way process, and does not act as a mechanism to nonlinearly generate Alfvén waves due to propagating magnetoacoustic waves. We conclude that these ponderomotive effects are induced by an Alfvén wave propagating in any MHD medium, and have the potential to have significant consequences on the dynamics of energy transport and aspects of dissipation provided the system is sufficiently nonlinear and inhomogeneous.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-222
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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