Astrophysical Gyrokinetics: Kinetic and Fluid Turbulent Cascades in Magnetized Weakly Collisional Plasmas
Publication date: 07 May 2009
Authors: Schekochihin, A.A. et al.
Journal: The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series
Copyright: American Astronomical Society
This paper presents a theoretical framework for understanding plasma turbulence in astrophysical plasmas. It is motivated by observations of electromagnetic and density fluctuations in the solar wind, interstellar medium and galaxy clusters, as well as by models of particle heating in accretion disks. All of these plasmas and many others have turbulent motions at weakly collisional and collisionless scales. The paper focuses on turbulence in a strong mean magnetic field. The key assumptions are that the turbulent fluctuations are small compared to the mean field, spatially anisotropic with respect to it and that their frequency is low compared to the ion cyclotron frequency. The turbulence is assumed to be forced at some system-specific outer scale. The energy injected at this scale has to be dissipated into heat, which ultimately cannot be accomplished without collisions. A kinetic cascade develops that brings the energy to collisional scales both in space and velocity. The nature of the kinetic cascade in various scale ranges depends on the physics of plasma fluctuations that exist there. There are four special scales that separate physically distinct regimes: the electron and ion gyroscales, the mean free path and the electron diffusion scale. -- Remainder of abstract is truncated --Link to publication