Diagnosing collisionless energy transfer using field–particle correlations: Gyrokinetic turbulence

Kristopher G. Klein, Gregory G. Howes, Jason M. TenBarge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Determining the physical mechanisms that extract energy from turbulent fluctuations in weakly collisional magnetized plasmas is necessary for a more complete characterization of the behaviour of a variety of space and astrophysical plasmas. Such a determination is complicated by the complex nature of the turbulence as well as observational constraints, chiefly that in situ measurements of such plasmas are typically only available at a single point in space. Recent work has shown that correlations between electric fields and particle velocity distributions constructed from single-point measurements produce a velocity-dependent signature of the collisionless damping mechanism. We extend this work by constructing field–particle correlations using data sets drawn from single points in strongly driven, turbulent, electromagnetic gyrokinetic simulations to demonstrate that this technique can identify the collisionless mechanisms operating in such systems. The velocity-space structure of the correlation between proton distributions and parallel electric fields agrees with expectations of resonant mechanisms transferring energy collisionlessly in turbulent systems. This work motivates the eventual application of field–particle correlations to spacecraft measurements in the solar wind, with the ultimate goal to determine the physical mechanisms that dissipate magnetized plasma turbulence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number535830401
JournalJournal of Plasma Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • Astrophysical plasmas
  • Plasma nonlinear phenomena
  • Space plasma physics


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