The evolution of electron overdensities in magnetic fields

MacLachlan, C.S., Diver, D.A. and Potts, H.E. (2009) The evolution of electron overdensities in magnetic fields. New Journal of Physics, 11(6), 063001. (doi:10.1088/1367-2630/11/6/063001)

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Abstract

When a neutral gas impinges on a stationary magnetized plasma an enhancement in the ionization rate occurs when the neutrals exceed a threshold velocity. This is commonly known as the critical ionization velocity effect. This process has two distinct timescales: an ion–neutral collision time and electron acceleration time. We investigate the energization of an ensemble of electrons by their self-electric field in an applied magnetic field. The evolution of the electrons is simulated under different magnetic field and density conditions. It is found that electrons can be accelerated to speeds capable of electron impact ionization for certain conditions. In the magnetically dominated case the energy distribution of the excited electrons shows that typically 1% of the electron population can exceed the initial electrostatic potential associated with the unbalanced ensemble of electrons.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:MacLachlan, Dr Craig and Potts, Dr Hugh and Diver, Professor Declan
Authors: MacLachlan, C.S., Diver, D.A., and Potts, H.E.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:New Journal of Physics
Journal Abbr.:New J. Phys.
Publisher:Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd.
ISSN:1367-2630
ISSN (Online):1367-2630
Published Online:03 June 2009
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2009 Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd.
First Published:First published in New Journal of Physics 11(6):063001
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
465931Solar, stellar and cosmological plasmas: a synthesis of data, modelling and theory.Declan DiverScience & Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)ST/F002149/1Physics and Astronomy