Inhibition of electron thermal conduction by electromagnetic instabilities Academic Article uri icon


  • Heat flux inhibition by electromagnetic instabilities in a hot magnetized plasma is investigated. Low-frequency electromagnetic waves become unstable due to anisotropy of the electron distribution function. The chaotic magnetic field thus generated scatters the electrons with a specific effective mean free path. Saturation of the instability due to wave-wave interaction, nonlinear scattering, wave propagation, and collisional damping is considered. The effective mean free path is found self-consistently, using a simple model to estimate saturation level and scattering, and is shown to decrease with the temperature gradient length. The results, limited to the assumptions of the model, are applied to astrophysical systems. For some interstellar clouds the instability is found to be important. Collisional damping stabilizes the plasma, and the heat conduction can be dominated by superthermal electrons.

publication date

  • January 1, 1992