The nonlinear stability of current-driven ion-acoustic waves in collisionless electron-ion plasmas is analyzed. Seminal simulations from the 1980s are revisited. Accurate numerical treatment shows that subcritical instabilities do not grow from an ensemble of waves, except very close to marginal stability and for large initial amplitudes. Further from marginal stability, one isolated phase-space structure can drive subcritical instabilities by stirring the phase-space in its wake. Phase-space turbulence, which includes many structures, is much more efficient than an ensemble of waves or an isolated hole for driving subcritically particle redistribution, turbulent heating and anomalous resistivity. Phase-space jets are observed in subcritical simulations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Condensed Matter Physics