Microphysics in Astrophysical Plasmas

Type Journal Article
Names Steven J. Schwartz, Ellen G. Zweibel, Martin Goldman
Publication Space Science Reviews
Pages 50
Journal Abbreviation Space Science Reviews
Date May 1, 2013
DOI 10.1007/s11214-013-9975-8
ISSN 0038-6308
URL http://adsabs.org/2013SSRv.tmp.50S
Library Catalog labs.adsabs.harvard.edu
Abstract Although macroscale features dominate astrophysical images and energetics, the physics is controlled through microscale transport processes (conduction, diffusion) that mediate the flow of mass, momentum, energy, and charge. These microphysical processes manifest themselves in key (all) boundary layers and also operate within the body of the plasma. Crucially, most plasmas of interest are rarefied to the extent that classical particle collision length- and time-scales are long. Collective plasma kinetic phenomena then serve to scatter or otherwise modify the particle distribution functions and in so-doing govern the transport at the microscale level. Thus collisionless plasmas are capable of supporting thin shocks, current sheets which may be prone to magnetic reconnection, and the dissipation of turbulence cascades at kinetic scales. This paper lays the foundation for the accompanying collection that explores the current state of knowledge in this subject. The richness of plasma kinetic phenomena brings with it a rich diversity of microphysics that does not always, if ever, simply mimic classical collision-dominated transport. This can couple the macro- and microscale physics in profound ways, and in ways which thus depend on the astrophysical context.
Tags ASTROPHYSICS, Microphysics, Plasmas, SPACE PLASMAS
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