Microphysically modified magnetosonic modes in collisionless, high-β plasmas

S. Majeski, M. W. Kunz, J. Squire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


With the support of hybrid-kinetic simulations and analytic theory, we describe the nonlinear behaviour of long-wavelength non-propagating (NP) modes and fast magnetosonic waves in high-collisionless plasmas, with particular attention to their excitation of and reaction to kinetic micro-instabilities. The perpendicularly pressure balanced polarization of NP modes produces an excess of perpendicular pressure over parallel pressure in regions where the plasma is increased. For mode amplitudes, this excess excites the mirror instability. Particle scattering off these micro-scale mirrors frustrates the nonlinear saturation of transit-Time damping, ensuring that large-Amplitude NP modes continue their decay to small amplitudes. At asymptotically large wavelengths, we predict that the mirror-induced scattering will be large enough to interrupt transit-Time damping entirely, isotropizing the pressure perturbations and morphing the collisionless NP mode into the magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) entropy mode. In fast waves, a fluctuating pressure anisotropy drives both mirror and firehose instabilities when the wave amplitude satisfies. The induced particle scattering leads to delayed shock formation and MHD-like wave dynamics. Taken alongside prior work on self-interrupting Alfvén waves and self-sustaining ion-Acoustic waves, our results establish a foundation for new theories of electromagnetic turbulence in low-collisionality, high-plasmas such as the intracluster medium, radiatively inefficient accretion flows and the near-Earth solar wind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA377
JournalJournal of Plasma Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 24 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • astrophysical plasmas
  • plasma instabilities
  • plasma waves


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