Journal of Plasma Physics

Research Article

Parametric instabilities of circularly polarized large-amplitude dispersive Alfvén waves: excitation of obliquely-propagating daughter and side-band waves

Adolfo F. Viñasa1 and Melvyn L. Goldsteina1

a1 Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics, Code 692 NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, U.S.A.


We investigate the parametric instabilities of a large-amplitude circularly polarized dispersive parallel-propagating Alfvén wave. Our treatment is more general than that of previous derivations based on the two-fluid equations in that we allow for propagation of the unstable daughter and side-band waves at arbitrary angles to the background (DC) magnetic field. We present the characteristics of the decay and modulational instabilities as functions of propagation angle. We find, in addition to the well-known decay and modulational instabilities, that at oblique and perpendicular propagation there is another parametric instability, namely the filamentation instability, which is characterized by a broad band-width in wavenumber and which satisfies the condition Re (ω) xs226A γ. A second parametric process at oblique and perpendicular angles of propagation, which has not been reported before is also investigated, namely the parametric magneto-acoustic instability. This instability is distinct from the filamentation instability in that it is characterized by density perturbations with large real frequencies that satisfy the condition Re (ω) xs226B γ. Unlike the filamentation instability, the magneto-acoustic instability extends over a broad angular range, but has a very narrow band-width in wavenumber. We report the dispersive characteristics of the filamentation and magneto-acoustic instabilities as functions of plasma β dispersion η and pump amplitude η for arbitrary propagation angles.

(Received March 15 1991)

(Revised May 03 1991)