Thursday, July 4, 2013

1307.0768 (M. Lazar et al.)

The Electron Firehose and Ordinary-Mode Instabilities in Space Plasmas    [PDF]

M. Lazar, S. Poedts, R. Schlickeiser, D. Ibscher
The selfgenerated wave fluctuations are particularly interesting in the solar wind and magnetospheric plasmas, where Coulomb collisions are rare and cannot explain the observed states of quasi-equilibrium. Linear theory predicts that the firehose and the ordinary-mode instabilities can develop under the same conditions, confusing the role of these instabilities in conditioning the space-plasma properties. The hierarchy of these two instabilities is reconsidered here for nonstreaming plasmas with an electron temperature anisotropy $T_\parallel > T_\perp$, where $\parallel$ and $\perp$ denote directions with respect to the local mean magnetic field. In addition to the previous comparative analysis, here the entire 3D wave-vector spectrum of the competing instabilities is investigated, paying particular attention to the oblique firehose instability and the relatively poorly known ordinary-mode instability. Results show a dominance of the oblique firehose instability with a threshold lower than the parallel firehose instability and lower than the ordinary-mode instability. For larger anisotropies, the ordinary mode can grow faster, with maximum growth rates exceeding the ones of the oblique firehose instability. In contrast to previous studies that claimed a possible activity of the ordinary-mode in the small $\beta [< 1]$ regimes, here it is rigorously shown that only the large $\beta [> 1]$ regimes are susceptible to these instabilities.
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