Current-driven ion cyclotron instabilities are the class of plasma
instabilities that have the lowest threshold current to grow in a
wide range of parameters relevant to space plasmas. Theoretical and experimental evidence have been given that for shear ed plasma flows parallel to the magnetic field, the threshold current for ion cyclotron instabilities is significantly decreased. These results have considerably strengthened the ion cyclotron instability as a possible heating mechanism in space plasmas.
Another key question is how plasma flows and field-aligned currents necessary to generate the instabilities can be spontaneously generated in solar wind conditions. Recently, it has been shown that current-free double layers (CFDLs) can generate plasma flows up to several times the ion-acoustic velocity, and associated instabilities have been discovered and are currently being investigated.
For this project we have assembled a team of internationally recognized scientists, three of whom are experts on solar wind modeling and observations, and five are experts on laboratory experiments and corresponding modeling. The goal is to combine aspects of laboratory and space plasma to better clarify the role of ion cyclotron resonance in solar corona/wind heati ng.
The new plasma device at Department of Physics at UiT, is specifically designed to study plasma flows, ion and electron beams, and beam plasma interactions and turbulence. We want to perform experiments in order to study ion cyclotron instabilities i n CFDL and ion beam conditions in general, and in a two-ion plasma in particular. These experiments will be accompanied by modeling of CFDL in both laboratory and space, and modeling of solar wind heating/expansion.