7. Relativistic regime
The heating of the pair plasma is leading to the situation where most of the energy is supported by the relativistic pair plasma. Here again the instability generating mechanism is the streaming of a beam in the plasma. The unusual streaming of a cold beam (the ambient medium) in a hot pair plasma needs a particular treatment of both growth rates and non-linear transfer. In a first step, we derive the dispersion relation of electrostatic, and electro-magnetic waves, and consider their destabilization by the backward streaming cold electron-proton beam.
All quantities are derived in the relativistic plasma frame where, for convenience, the primes are omitted.
7.1. Pair plasma electrostatic waves
The general dispersion relation for longitudinal modes in a magneto-active plasma is given by:
For a mono-energetic isotropic distribution function
adding an imaginary part to to account for the Landau damping we easily obtain after integrating over µ
where is an arbitrary small positive quantity introduced to treat the pole according to causality. This quantity describes the treatment of the resonant pole in Eq. (73).
Mainly we have three distinct regimes: , , and .
The beam instability implies . Thus the resonant wave number implies and then no allowed resonance for such values.
The waves are evanescent in this regime.
which leads to
For this regime, electrostatic waves can spontaneously propagate in the relativistic plasma. The cold perturbative medium contributes to the dispersion relation and may destabilize the waves. Injecting a mono-energetic distribution
where , and is the beam density in the pair plasma frame we obtain
For the waves propagating backward with respect to the direction of motion of the beam, the solutions can be search with where Z is complex and . By expanding to the lowest order in Z this leads to a second order equation with a positive discriminant. No waves are destabilized in this direction.
For forward propagating waves , the dispersion relation is of the third degree in Z. Neglecting the factors with , the ratio of the cold beam to the pair density must verify the following condition to give rise to an instability:
For the condition is not relevant. Even in this case there is no way for destabilizing electrostatic Langmuir modes.
This may be explain by the fact that the phase speed of electrostatic modes generated in a relativistic electron-positron beam is , ruling out any resonance with non-relativistic particles.
7.2. Pair plasma electro-magnetic waves
7.2.1. Dispersion relation and absorption
In a magneto-active plasma, the general form of the dispersion relation of both right and left electro-magnetic modes is given for any distribution function :
a denotes the different species present in the plasma.
with sgn .
For Alfvén modes . The dispersion relation for the relativistic medium expressed in spherical coordinates in momentum space is
Where . After integrating over µ, for both electron and positron contributions, the principal value leads to the dispersion relation
Which leads to the modified Alfvén speed of the relativistic medium:
The treatment of the poles allows to examine the absorption of these waves. It depends very sensitively to the following characteristic wave number . At , the waves are over-damped by synchrotron absorption. However, the damping rate vanishes rapidly when k is sufficiently smaller than (exponentially for an exponentially decreasing distribution, like a power law for a power law distribution). Thus, the dissipation range is restricted to k smaller but close to .
7.2.2. The proton back-streaming instability
We now turn to the contribution of the cold beam to the dispersion relation. For
The general dispersion relation regardless the Landau damping effects is:
Frequency regimes with give a fortiori , and can be neglected in the numerator of the cold plasma dispersion relation.
The left polarized modes are destabilized by the ions. In this case the resonant wave number is for . Then a backward propagating mode with ( real and ) and with a frequency (Z complex, and ) leads to a second order equation
A negative discriminant can be obtained for , as long as
in the relativistic case and leads to . Therefore an instability is found for Alfvén waves that resonate with the proton back-stream. The maximum growth rate of pair Alfvén waves is
This instability exists only if , which puts a threshold that we will discuss later on.
The backward propagating right polarized Alfvén modes are not destabilized by the cold electron beam, since the discriminant of the corresponding second order equation is always positive.
The above mentioned condition leads to an upper limit for the mean Lorentz factor of the relativistic population . The factor is a saturation value for the internal energy of the pair distribution due to their interaction with the cold protonic plasma. Below the interaction with the cold ions contributes to increase the internal energy of the pair population, while above this value the pairs cool by Compton radiation.
7.3. Non-linear transfer
This particular instability does not evolve according to the quasi linear relaxation followed by random phase mode coupling. Indeed, the excited waves have a narrow band spectrum about , namely (Eq. (91)). A quasi monochromatic wave can grow and can probably trap the protons. In fact whatever the protons are trapped or not, a self modulation instability of the monochromatic wave will develop building non-linear wave packets (possibly solitons). The shortest wavelength components of these wave packets will undergo Landau-synchrotron damping on the pair plasma. Therefore, the ambient protons couple to the pair plasma through this non-linear process whose theory would deserve detailed investigations. This process should necessarily lead to a driving of the ambient protons and to the heating (by Landau-synchrotron absorption) of the pair plasma. As long as no other process is at work, a regulation mechanism brings the internal energy of the pair plasma to a saturation value. When this internal energy is smaller, the interaction with the ambient protons heats the pair plasma, and when the internal energy is larger, the interaction no more holds and the radiation losses cool the pair plasma. Further heating can be provided by the turbulence carried by the MHD jet (see HP).
© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997
Online publication: June 5, 1998