Articles | Volume 29, issue 2
Ann. Geophys., 29, 411–413, 2011

Special issue: Dynamical processes in space plasmas

Ann. Geophys., 29, 411–413, 2011

ANGEO Communicates 23 Feb 2011

ANGEO Communicates | 23 Feb 2011

Magnetic curvature driven Rayleigh-Taylor instability revisited

O. A. Pokhotelov1 and O. G. Onishchenko2,3 O. A. Pokhotelov and O. G. Onishchenko
  • 1Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, University of Sheffield, Mappin str., S1 3JD Sheffield, UK
  • 2Institute of Physics of the Earth, 10 B. Gruzinskaya str., 123995 Moscow, Russian Federation
  • 3Space Research Institute, 84/32 Profsouznaya str., 117997 Moscow, Russian Federation

Abstract. The problem of incomplete finite ion Larmor radius (FLR) stabilization of the magnetic curvature driven Rayleigh-Taylor instability (RTI) in low beta plasma with homogeneous ion temperature is investigated. For this purpose a model hydrodynamic description of nonlinear flute waves with arbitrary spatial scales compared to the ion Larmor radius is developed. It is shown that the RTI is not stabilized by FLR effects in a plasma with cold electrons when the ratio of characteristic spatial scale of the plasma inhomogeneity to local effective radius of curvature of the magnetic field lines is larger than 1/4. The crucial role in the absence of the complete FLR stabilization plays the contribution of the compressibility of the polarization part of the ion velocity.