Decay of an electronic vortex of a collisionless shock wave as a possible mechanism of a “Coulomb explosion”

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A new mechanism of a “Coulomb explosion,” where ions are accelerated by the electric field separating charges at the magnetic Debye radius r BB/4πen e, is proposed on the basis of a nonquasineutral model of electronic vortices in a magnetic field. It is shown by means of numerical calculations that in the process of acceleration of the ions a collisionless shock wave, whose front has an effective width of the order of δ∼r B, determined by the breakdown of quasineutrality, is formed in a time of the order of ω pi −1 , where ωpi is the ion plasma frequency. The origin of such explosive dynamics is the formation of “holes” in the electron density at characteristic times of the order of ω pe −1 pe is the electronic plasma frequency) as a result of the generation of electronic vorticity by the Weibel instability of an electromagnetic wave. Calculations for a laser pulse with intensity J∼6×1018 W/cm2 show that the ions expand in the radial direction with velocities up to 3.5×108 cm/s.

Pis’ma Zh. Éksp. Teor. Fiz. 70, No. 10, 669–674 (25 November 1999)