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Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Mar 17;96(10):105002. Epub 2006 Mar 15.

Space-charge effects in the current-filamentation or Weibel instability.

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Department of Electrical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, 90095, USA.


We consider how an unmagnetized plasma responds to an incoming flux of energetic electrons. We assume a return current is present and allow for the incoming electrons to have a different transverse temperature than the return current. To analyze this configuration we present a nonrelativistic theory of the current-filamentation or Weibel instability for rigorously current-neutral and nonseparable distribution functions, f(0)(p(x), p(y), p(z)) is not equal to f(x)(p(x))f(y)(p(y))f(z)(p(z)). We find that such distribution functions lead to lower growth rates because of space-charge forces that arise when the forward-going electrons pinch to a lesser degree than the colder, backward-flowing electrons. We verify the growth rate, range of unstable wave numbers, and the formation of the density filaments using particle-in-cell simulations.

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