Relativistic Drive

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Relativistic generation of vortex and magnetic field

Physics of Plasmas / Volume 18 / Issue 5 / INVITED PAPERS / Basic Plasma Phenomena, Waves, Instabilities
S. M. Mahajan1 and Z. Yoshida2
1Institute for Fusion Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA
2Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Chiba 277-8561, Japan
Received 24 November 2010; accepted 1 February 2011; published online 8 April 2011

The implications of the recently demonstrated relativistic mechanism for generating generalized vorticity in purely ideal dynamics [Mahajan and Yoshida, Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 095005 (2010)] are worked out. The said mechanism has its origin in the space-time distortion caused by the demands of special relativity; these distortions break the topological constraint (conservation of generalized helicity) forbidding the emergence of magnetic field (a generalized vorticity) in an ideal nonrelativistic dynamics. After delineating the steps in the “evolution” of vortex dynamics, as the physical system goes from a nonrelativistic to a relativistically fast and hot plasma, a simple theory is developed to disentangle the two distinct components comprising the generalized vorticity—the magnetic field and the thermal-kinetic vorticity. The “strength” of the new universal mechanism is, then, estimated for a few representative cases; in particular, the level of seed fields, created in the cosmic setting of the early hot universe filled with relativistic particle–antiparticle pairs (up to the end of the electron–positron era), are computed. Possible applications of the mechanism in intense laser produced plasmas are also explored. It is suggested that highly relativistic laser plasma could provide a laboratory for testing the essence of the relativistic drive. [emphasis mine]