Encyclopedia of Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism

2007 Edition
| Editors: David Gubbins, Emilio Herrero-Bervera

Alfvén Waves

  • Christopher Finlay
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4423-6_3

Introduction and historical details

Alfvén waves are transverse magnetic tension waves that travel along magnetic field lines and can be excited in any electrically conducting fluid permeated by a magnetic field.  Hannes Alfvén (q.v.) deduced their existence from the equations of electromagnetism and hydrodynamics (Alfvén, 1942). Experimental confirmation of his prediction was found seven years later in studies of waves in liquid mercury (Lundquist, 1949). Alfvén waves are now known to be an important mechanism for transporting energy and momentum in many geophysical and astrophysical hydromagnetic systems. They have been observed in Earth's magnetosphere (Voigt, 2002), in interplanetary plasmas (Tsurutani and Ho, 1999), and in the solar photosphere (Nakariakov et al., 1999). The ubiquitous nature of Alfvén waves and their role in communicating the effects of changes in electric currents and magnetic fields has ensured that they remain the focus of increasingly detailed laboratory...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Finlay

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