# Physics of collisionless phase mixing

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- Published Article
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- DOI: 10.1063/1.3023157
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- arXiv
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- Yellow
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## Abstract

Previous studies of phase mixing of ion cyclotron (IC), Alfv\'enic, waves in the collisionless regime have established the generation of parallel electric field and hence acceleration of electrons in the regions of transverse density inhomogeneity. However, outstanding issues were left open. Here we use 2.5D, relativistic, fully electromagnetic PIC (Particle-In-Cell) code and an analytic MHD (Magnetohydrodynamic) formulation, to establish the following points: (i) Using the generalised Ohm's law we find that the parallel electric field is supported mostly by the electron pressure tensor, with a smaller contribution from the electron inertia term. (ii) The generated parallel electric field and the fraction of accelerated electrons are independent of the IC wave frequency remaining at a level of six orders of magnitude larger than the Dreicer value and approximately 20% respectively. The generated parallel electric field and the fraction of accelerated electrons increase with the increase of IC wave amplitude. The generated parallel electric field seems to be independent of plasma beta, while the fraction of accelerated electrons strongly increases with the decrease of plasma beta (for plasma beta of 0.0001 the fraction of accelerated electrons can be as large as 47%). (iii) In the collisionless regime IC wave dissipation length (that is defined as the distance over which the wave damps) variation with the driving frequency shows a deviation from the analytical MHD result, which we attribute to a possible frequency dependence of the effective resistivity. (iv) Effective anomalous resistivity, inferred from our numerical simulations, is at least four orders of magnitude larger than the classical Spitzer value.