Mixing of shear Alfven wave packets
Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester, Manchester, M60 1QD, UK e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Institute for Material Research, University of Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4WT, UK
Accepted: 26 May 2008
Aims. We consider the propagation of shear Alfven wave packets in inhomogeneous magnetic fields which is at the origin of their distortion regardless of any non-linear coupling. It is shown that this can be regarded as a mixing process and hence, standard phase mixing corresponds to the effect of an Alfvenic shear flow, while enhanced dissipation at a magnetic X-point corresponds to mixing by an Alfvenic strain flow.
Methods. The evolution of the wave field is supposed to result from the dynamics of a superposition of wave packets, and a kinetic equation for the wave energy is obtained following this eikonal (WKB) description.
Results. Since shear Alfven wave packets experience continuous shearing/straining, while transported by an inhomogeneous Alfvenic flow , their mixing process in physical space is also a cascade of wave energy in k-space. The wave energy spectrum resulting from this linear mechanism of energy transfer is determined for the special case of waves propagating along chaotic magnetic field lines, the analog of a chaotic mixing process. The latter follows a k-1 power law in the energy conserving range in k space.
Key words: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / waves / magnetic fields
© ESO, 2008