Volume 96, Number 5, December 2011
|Number of page(s)
|Physics of Gases, Plasmas and Electric Discharges
|07 November 2011
Direct measurement of the speed of sound in a complex plasma under microgravity conditions
Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics - Garching, Germany
2 Joint Institute for High Temperatures - Moscow, Russia
3 Yu. Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center - Star City, Russia
4 International Space Station (a)
Accepted: 27 October 2011
We present a direct measurement of the speed of sound in a three-dimensional complex plasma —a room-temperature plasma that contains micrometer-sized particles as fourth component. In order to obtain an undisturbed system, the setup was placed under microgravity conditions on board the International Space Station. The speed of sound was measured with the help of Mach cones excited by a supersonic probe particle moving through the extended particle cloud at Mach numbers M≲3. We use the Mach cone relation to infer the particle charge and compare with that predicted by standard theories. In addition, we compare our results with a numerical simulation. In both experiment and simulation, we observe a double Mach cone structure.
PACS: 52.27.Lw – Dusty or complex plasmas; plasma crystals / 52.35.Dm – Sound waves
© EPLA, 2011
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