Detonation: A mechanism for the explosive release of energy in a plasma

Steven Cowley, Mehmet Artun, Brian Albright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

The explosive release of energy by a plasma is a common and striking occurrence. A novel explosive scenario is demonstrated in a simple system that becomes unstable to a line tied Rayleigh–Taylor–Parker instability. The system crosses the linear instability threshold in a narrow region. Initially the instability grows in the narrow region. Two nonlinear terms become important at low amplitude. One nonlinearity causes the mode to grow explosively and narrow into finger‐like structures. The other nonlinearity broadens the mode into the linearly stable region. The explosive nonlinearity makes the linearly stable region metastable. The combination of the two nonlinearities causes the mode to progressively destabilize the metastable region. Since this process is reminiscent of the detonation of chemical explosives, it is called detonation. Without dissipation the kinetic energy released is proportional to (t0−t)−6.4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1848-1852
Number of pages5
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Volume3
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics

Keywords

  • DETONATIONS
  • ENERGY LOSSES
  • INSTABILITY GROWTH RATES
  • MAGNETOHYDRODYNAMICS
  • METASTABLE STATES
  • RAYLEIGH−TAYLOR INSTABILITY
  • SOLAR FLARES

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