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Cosmic Plasma by Hannes Alfvén (auth.)

By Hannes Alfvén (auth.)

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18. From a mercury plasma produced by a discharge, a plasma column conrmed by a magnetic field penetrates to the anode. In this current-carrying column a double layer is produced as soon as the current exceeds a certain limit (Torven and Lindberg, 1980). ""e,, from E2 (em) ]:} 'iii 0:: . c 0 distance from E2 u a; Z Fig. 19. Axial potential profile at the symmetry axis (top) showing a double layer. The net charge distribution (below) gives the reason for calling it a double layer (Torven and Lindberg, 1980).

As it is unlikely that cosmic plasmas have such properties only in those regions which are accessible to spacecraft diagnostics, it is legitimate to conclude that space in general has a 'cellular structure', although this is almost impossible to observe unless a spacecraft penetrates the 'cell walls' (current sheets). This means that in distant regions, we cannot hope to detect the cell walls directly. Nor can we tell the size of the cells. It is unpleasant to base far-reaching conclusions on the existence of a structure which we cannot detect directly.

Like field-aligned currents, they may be likely to form exploding double layers. Experiments by Ohyabu et al. (1974) seem to confirm this (although their interpretation is different). 1 = mvl /2B), andg = gravitational force. , radiation pressure or collisiOIis. The 'perpendicular' kinetic energy tmv may represent the 'perpendicular temperature' All of these drifts except the electric field drift depend on the sign of the charge and hence produce currents. The gravitation drift depends on m and hence can produce a chemical separation of atoms with different masses.

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