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Solar Physics

, Volume 267, Issue 1, pp 153–174 | Cite as

Kappa Distributions: Theory and Applications in Space Plasmas

  • V. Pierrard
  • M. LazarEmail author
Article

Abstract

The plasma particle velocity distributions observed in the solar wind generally show enhanced (non-Maxwellian) suprathermal tails, decreasing as a power law of the velocity and well described by the family of Kappa distribution functions. The presence of non-thermal populations at different altitudes in space plasmas suggests a universal mechanism for their creation and important consequences concerning plasma fluctuations, the resonant and nonresonant wave – particle acceleration and plasma heating. These effects are well described by the kinetic approaches where no closure requires the distributions to be nearly Maxwellian. This paper summarizes and analyzes the various theories proposed for the Kappa distributions and their valuable applications in coronal and space plasmas.

Keywords

(Sun:) Corona Solar wind Plasmas Kappa distributions Kinetic models Turbulence Instabilities 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Space PhysicsBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Center for Space Radiations, Institute of Research in Mathematics and PhysicsUniversité Catholique de LouvainLouvain-La-NeuveBelgium
  3. 3.Research Department – Plasmas with Complex InteractionsRuhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany
  4. 4.Center for Plasma AstrophysicsLeuvenBelgium

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