Low-energy Langmuir cavitons: Asymptotic limit of weak turbulence
Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Pisa - Largo Pontecorvo 3, 56127 Pisa, Italy, EU
2 LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, UPMC, Université Paris Diderot - 5 Place J. Janssen, 92190 Meudon, France, EU
Accepted: 21 October 2011
Langmuir turbulence is an archetype of wave turbulence in plasma physics. By means of 1D-1V Vlasov-Poisson simulations, we show that coherent structures, called Langmuir cavitons, are generated by the long-time evolution of Langmuir weak-turbulence, thus illustrating the breakdown of a weak-turbulence regime. These structures correspond to an equilibrium between the pressure forces and the ponderomotive force resulting from high-frequency Langmuir oscillations. Langmuir cavitons are typical features of strong Langmuir turbulence expected to be generated at high energy and to saturate when Langmuir energy is of the order of the plasma thermal energy. Despite this wide-spread belief, here we observe that cavitons, emerging from weak Langmuir turbulence evolution, saturate at much lower energies. We show that these Langmuir coherent structures are characterized by a much larger length scale with respect to the Debye length. This gives evidence that “large” and “shallow” stable cavitons should be seen in space plasma observations. The transition toward strong turbulence is shown to be a consequence of an initial weak turbulent inverse cascade. Finally, the effective equation of state for ion acoustic oscillations is tested numerically from the kinetic model.
PACS: 52.35.Ra – Plasma turbulence / 47.27.De – Coherent structures / 52.35.Fp – Electrostatic waves and oscillations (e.g., ion-acoustic waves)
© EPLA, 2011