Space-Charge Effects in the Current-Filamentation or Weibel Instability

M. Tzoufras, C. Ren, F. S. Tsung, J. W. Tonge, W. B. Mori, M. Fiore, R. A. Fonseca, and L. O. Silva
Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 105002 – Published 15 March 2006


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, f0(px,py,pz)fx(px)fy(py)fz(pz). 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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  • Received 13 October 2005


©2006 American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

M. Tzoufras1, C. Ren2, F. S. Tsung3, J. W. Tonge3, W. B. Mori1,3, M. Fiore4, R. A. Fonseca4, and L. O. Silva4

  • 1Department of Electrical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
  • 2Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14623, USA and Laboratory for Laser Energetics, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14623, USA
  • 3Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
  • 4GoLP/Centro de Fisica dos Plasmas, Instituto Superior Tecnico, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal

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Vol. 96, Iss. 10 — 17 March 2006

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