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Advanced Space Plasma Physics

Introduction


This book is the second volume of our introductory text on Space Plasma Physics. The first volume is published under the title Basic Space Plasma Physics and covers the more fundamental aspects, i.e., single particle dynamics, fluid equilibria, and waves in space plasmas. This second volume extends the material to the more advanced fields of plasma instabilities and nonlinear effects.

Actually, there are already a number of monographs, where the general nonlinear plasma methods are described in considerable detail. But many of these books are quite specialized. The present book selects those methods, which are applied in space plasma physics, and, on the expense of detailedness, tries to make them accessible to the more practically oriented student and researcher by putting the new achievements and methods into the context of general space physics.

The first part of the book is concerned with the evolution of linear instabilities in plasmas. Instabilities have turned out to be the most interesting and important phenomena in physics. They arise when free energy has accumulated in a system which the system wants to get rid of. In plasma physics there is a multitude of reasons for the excitation of instabilities. Inhomogeneities may evolve both in real space and in velocity space. These inhomogeneities lead to the generation of instabilities as a first linear and straightforward reaction of the plasma to such deviations from thermal equilibrium. The first chapters cover a representative selection of the many macro- and microinstabilities in space plasmas, from the Rayleigh-Taylor and Kelvin-Helmholtz to electrostatic and electromagnetic kinetic instabilities. Their quasilinear stabilization and nonlinear evolution and their application to space physics problems is treated.

As a natural extension of the linear evolution, nonlinear effects do inevitably evolve in an unstable plasma, simply because an instability cannot persist forever but will exhaust the available free energy. Therefore all instabilities are followed by nonlinear evolution. The second part of the book, the chapters on nonlinear effects, can only give an overview about the vast field of nonlinearities. These chapters include the nonlinear evolution of single waves, weak turbulence, and strong turbulence, all presented from the view-point of their relevance for space plasma physics. Special topics include soliton formation, caviton collapse, anomalous transport, particle acceleration, and elements of the theory of collisionless shocks.


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Last update of this page 2003-02-11 by Helmut Steinle on behalf of Wolfgang Baumjohann.
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