Nonlinear Electromagnetic-wave Interactions in Pair Plasma. I. Nonrelativistic Regime

Arka Ghosh, Daniel Kagan, Uri Keshet, Yuri Lyubarsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


High brightness-temperature radiation is observed in various astrophysical sources: active galactic nuclei, pulsars, interstellar masers, and flaring stars; the discovery of fast radio bursts renewed interest in the nonlinear interaction of intense radiation with plasma. In astronomical systems, the radiation frequency is typically well above the plasma frequency and its spectrum is broad, so nonlinear processes differ considerably from those typically studied in laboratory plasma. This paper is the first in a series devoted to the numerical study of nonlinear interactions of electromagnetic waves with plasma. We start with nonmagnetized pair plasmas, where the primary processes are induced (Compton) scattering and filamentation instability. In this paper, we consider waves in which electron oscillations are nonrelativistic. Here, the numerical results can be compared to analytical theory, facilitating the development of appropriate numerical tools and framework. We distill the analytic theory, reconciling the plasma and radiative transfer pictures of induced scattering and developing in detail the kinetic theory of modulation/filamentation instability. We carry out homogeneous numerical simulations using the particle-in-cell codes EPOCH and Tristan-MP for both monochromatic waves and wave packets. We show that simulations of both processes are consistent with theoretical predictions, setting the stage for analyzing the highly nonlinear regime.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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