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Quasicollisional magneto-optic effects in collisionless plasmas with sub-Larmor-scale electromagnetic fluctuations

ABSTRACT

High-amplitude, chaotic or turbulent electromagnetic fluctuations are ubiquitous in high-energy-density laboratory and astrophysical plasmas, where they can be excited by various kinetic-streaming and/or anisotropy-driven instabilities, such as the Weibel instability. These fields typically exist on “sub-Larmor scales”—scales smaller than the electron Larmor radius. Electrons moving through such magnetic fields undergo small-angle stochastic deflections of their pitch angles, thus establishing diffusive transport on long time scales. We show that this behavior, under certain conditions, is equivalent to Coulomb collisions in collisional plasmas. The magnetic pitch-angle diffusion coefficient, which acts as an effective “collision” frequency, may be substantial in these, otherwise, collisionless environments. We show that this effect, colloquially referred to as the plasma “quasicollisionality,” may radically alter the expected radiative transport properties of candidate plasmas. We argue that the modified magneto-optic effects in these plasmas provide an attractive, radiative diagnostic tool for the exploration and characterization of small-scale magnetic turbulence, as well as affect inertial confinement fusion and other laser-plasma experiments.

Physical Review E 92, 053102, 2015
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Authors: 
Brett D. Keenan*, Alexander L. Ford*, and Mikhail V. Medvedev* * KU Authors