Module Identifier PHM8510  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Dr Eleri Pryse  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Andrew Breen  
Pre-Requisite Successful Completion of Year 3 of the MPhys Scheme  
Course delivery Lecture   20 lectures  
Assessment Exam   3 Hours End of Semester Examinations   100%  

Module description

The core of the course will cover the essentials of plasma physics, including the nature of a plasma, motion of single charged particles in a magnetic field, magnetohydrodynamics, waves in plasma, and instabilities. The theory will be illustrated by examples from interplanetary space and the magnetosphere.

Learning outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:

Outline syllabus

Occurrence of plasmas, temperature of a plasma, Debye shielding, plasma oscillations.

Motion of a single charged particle in
(a) a homogenous magnetic field; gyro-radius and frequency.
(b) a converging magnetic field; magnetic mirror.
(c) an inhomogenous magnetic field; drift motion.
(d) a magnetic field with a perpendicular electric field.

Magnetohydrodynamics: Maxwell's equations applied to a plasma; diffusion time of magnetic field in a plasma; "frozen-in" fields, magnetic Reynold's number.

Waves in a plasma: electron plasma waves, ion-acoustic waves, MHD waves, shear Alfven waves, fast-mode (compressional) waves.

Types of instability, two-stream instability (simple "doppler-shift" treatment), Rayleigh-Taylor and Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities (qualitative treatment).

Reading Lists

** Reference Text
Francis F Chen. Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion. 0306413329
Kivelson M G and Russell C T. Introduction to Space Physics. 0521457149