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Constraints on ion versus electron heating by plasma turbulence at low beta
Schekochihin, A. A.; Kawazura, Y.; Barnes, M. A.
AA(Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics, University of Oxford, Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PU, UK), AB(Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics, University of Oxford, Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PU, UK), AC(Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics, University of Oxford, Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PU, UK 0000-0002-0177-1689)
Journal of Plasma Physics, Volume 85, Issue 3, id.905850303
Publication Date:
astrophysical plasmas, plasma heating, plasma nonlinear phenomena
Abstract Copyright:
2019: Cambridge University Press
Bibliographic Code:


It is shown that in low-beta, weakly collisional plasmas, such as the solar corona, some instances of the solar wind, the aurora, inner regions of accretion discs, their coronae and some laboratory plasmas, Alfvénic fluctuations produce no ion heating within the gyrokinetic approximation, i.e. as long as their amplitudes (at the Larmor scale) are small and their frequencies stay below the ion-Larmor frequency (even though their spatial scales can be above or below the ion Larmor scale). Thus, all low-frequency ion heating in such plasmas is due to compressive fluctuations (`slow modes'): density perturbations and non-Maxwellian perturbations of the ion distribution function. Because these fluctuations energetically decouple from the Alfvénic ones already in the inertial range, the above conclusion means that the energy partition between ions and electrons in low-beta plasmas is decided at the outer scale, where turbulence is launched, and can be determined from magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) models of the relevant astrophysical systems. Any additional ion heating must come from non-gyrokinetic mechanisms such as cyclotron heating or the stochastic heating owing to distortions of ions' Larmor orbits. An exception to these conclusions occurs in the Hall limit, i.e. when the ratio of the ion to electron temperatures is as low as the ion beta (equivalently, the electron beta is order unity). In this regime, slow modes couple to Alfvénic ones well above the Larmor scale (viz., at the ion inertial or ion sound scale), so the Alfvénic and compressive cascades join and then separate again into two cascades of fluctuations that linearly resemble kinetic Alfvén and ion-cyclotron waves, with the former heating electrons and the latter ions. The two cascades are shown to decouple, scalings for them are derived and it is argued physically that the two species will be heated by them at approximately equal rates.
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