Turbulent plasmas in space, laboratory experiments, and astrophysical domains can often be described by weak turbulence theory, which can be characterized as a broad spectrum of incoherent interacting waves. We investigate a fundamental nonlinear kinetic mechanism of weak turbulence that can explain the generation of whistler waves in homogeneous plasmas by nonlinear scattering of short wavelength electrostatic lower-hybrid (LH) waves. Two particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations with different mass ratios in two dimensions (2D) were performed using a ring ion velocity distribution to excite broadband LH waves. The wave modes evolve in frequency, and wavenumber space such that the LH waves are converted to whistler waves. The simulations show the formation of quasi-modes, which are low-frequency density perturbations driven by the ponderomotive force due to the beating of LH and whistler waves. These low-frequency oscillations are damped due to resonant phase matching with thermal plasma particles. By comparing the phase and thermal speeds, we confirm the nonlinear scattering mechanism and its role in the 2D evolution of the ring ion instability. Although the nonlinear scattering is theoretically slower in 2D than in 3D due to the absence of the vector nonlinearity, these simulations show that quasi-modes are an important diagnostic for nonlinear landau damping in PIC simulations that has not been utilized in the past. The nonlinear scattering mechanism described here plays an important role in the generation of whistler waves in active experiments, which will be experimentally studied in the upcoming Space Measurement of a Rocket Release Turbulence experiment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics