Drift-Alfvén vortex filaments associated with electromagnetic turbulence were recently identified in reversed field pinch devices. Similar propagating filamentary structures were observed in the Earth magnetosheath, magnetospheric cusp and Saturn’s magnetosheath by spacecrafts. The characteristics of these structures closely resemble those of the so-called mesoscale coherent structures, prevailing in fusion plasmas, known as “blobs” and “edge localized mode filaments” in the boundary region, and propagating avalanchelike events in the core region. In this paper the fundamental dynamics of drift-Alfvén vortex filaments in a nonuniformly and strongly magnetized plasma are revisited. We systemize the Lagrangian-invariant-based method. Six Lagrangian invariants are employed to describe structure motion and the resultant convective transport, namely, magnetic flux, background magnetic energy, specific entropy, total energy, magnetic momentum, and angular momentum. The perpendicular vortex motions and the kinetic shear Alfvén waves are coupled through the parallel current and Ampere’s law, leading to field line bending. On the timescale of interchange motion τ⊥, a thermal expansion force in the direction of curvature radius of the magnetic field overcomes the resultant force of magnetic tension and push plasma filament to accelerate in the direction of curvature radius resulting from plasma inertial response, reacted to satisfy quasineutrality. During this process the internal energy stored in the background pressure gradient is converted into the kinetic energy of convective motion and the magnetic energy of field line bending through reversible pressure-volume work as a result of the plasma compressibility in an inhomogeneous magnetic field. On the timescale of parallel acoustic response τ∥⪢τ⊥, part of the filament’s energy is transferred into the kinetic energy of parallel flow. On the dissipation timescale τd⪢τ⊥, the kinetic energy and magnetic energy are eventually dissipated, which is accompanied by entropy production, and in this process the structure loses its coherence, but it has already traveled a distance in the radial direction. In this way the propagating filamentary structures induce intermittent convective transports of particles, heat, and momentum across the magnetic field. It is suggested that the phenomena of profile consistency, or resilience, and the underlying anomalous pinch effects of particles, heat, and momentum in the fusion plasmas can be interpreted in terms of the ballistic motion of these solitary electromagnetic filamentary structures.
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