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Gurnett and Bhattacharjee 4.

17
Xuxa Borealis
September 22, 2016
For a sufficiently large plasma density show that the Alfven vleocity VA = ncA is given to a good approximation by the following equation:
s
B2
VA =
(1)
0 m
P
where m = ms ns is the mass density.
First, need to find the Alfven modes; in cold plasmas this is done by taking the low frequency limit of the
dispersion relation, equ. (4.4.16):
D(n, ) = An4 Bn2 + RLP = 0

(2)

A = S sin2 + P cos2

(3)

B = RL sin + P S(1 + cos )


From Problem 4.9:
R=L=S =1+

2
X ps
2
cs

D=0
and
P =

(4)

(5)
(6)

2
X ps

(7)

Second, plug A and B into dispersion relation:


D(n, ) = (S sin2 + P cos2 )n4 (RL sin2 + P S(1 + cos2 ))n2 + RLP = 0

(8)

as 0 (low frequency limit) P becomes infinitely large but R, L, S, and D are bound. Using this approximation, when you divide out the P terms (S sin2 ) and (RL sin2 ) go to zero. Therefore the dispersion
relation simplifies to:
D(n, ) = (cos2 )n4 (S(1 + cos2 ))n2 + RL = 0
(9)
Third, we must put the dispersion relation in terms of the Alfvenic index of refraction, nA . From the text
(Gurnett and Bhattacharjee (4.4.28)):
n2A = 1 +

2
X ps
2
cs

=R=L=S

(10)

Using this definition, the dispersion relation now becomes:


D(n, ) = (cos2 )n4 (n2A (1 + cos2 ))n2 + n4A = 0

(11)

To solve for the roots of this equation it is helpful to rearrange it, twice. The first root, n2 = n2A , is obvious
when the dispersion relation is written as:
D(n, ) = n4A n2 n2A + (cos2 )(n4 n2 n2A )+ = 0

(12)

The second root takes a bit more algebra. Starting from the equation 11, set n2 = q, and solve as you would
any quadratic equation; with the quadratic equation (equ. 14):
D(n, ) = (cos2 )q 2 (n2A + n2A cos2 )q + n4A = 0

(13)

x=

b2 4ac
2a

(14)

where a = cos2 , b = n2A + n2A cos2 , and c = n4A . Which I cant show, because I havent been able to make
it work (hashtag honesty). The second root, that we arent going to use anyway, is n2 = n2A / cos2 .
Now that we have n2 = n2A we can used equ. 10 for n2A and solve for the Alfven velocity, VA with a
sufficiently high plasma density, which can be equated to a sufficiently high plasma frequency, ps . The
sufficiently high plasma frequency lets us drop the 1 and equ. 10 becomes:
n2A =

2
X ps

(15)

2
cs

2
Now, you must recall what the plasma frequency and cyclotron frequency are: ps
=

ns e2s
0 ms

2
and cs
=

X ns e2 e2 B 2
s
/
0 ms m2s

n2A =

(16)

X ns e2 m2
s
s
0 ms e2 B 2
X ns m s
n2A =
0 B 2
X
1
n2A =
ns ms
0 B 2
P
P
At this point the
ns ms should look familiar [where m = ms ns is the mass density.]
n2A =

n2A =

m
0 B 2

Also something we need from the statement of the problem [the Alfven vleocity VA =
s
c
0 B 2
VA =
=c
nA
m

e2 B 2
m2s

(17)
(18)
(19)

(20)
c
nA ]

(21)

From Wikipedia: The speed c with which EM waves propagate through vacuum is related to the electric
constant 0 and the magnetic constant 0 by the equation:
c=

1
0 0

Using this equation we can get the equation for VA that the problem asked us to:
s
c
1
0 B 2
=
VA =
nA
0 0
m
s
c
0 B 2
VA =
=
nA
m 0 0
s
B2
VA =
m 0
Ta-Da!

(22)

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