The return current induced in a plasma by a relativisitc electron beam generates a new electron-ion two-stream instability (return current instability). Although the effect of these currents on the beam-plasma e-e instability is negligible, there exists a range of wave numbers which is unstable only to return current (RC) instability and not to e-e instability. The electromagnetic waves propagating along the direction of the external magnetic field, in which the plasma is immersed, are stabilized by these currents but the e.m. waves with frequencies,ω2≪Ωe2≪ωpe2 (Ωe andωpe being cyclotron and plasma frequency for the electrons of the plasma respectively) propagating transverse to the magnetic field get destabilized. Heuristic estimates of plasma heating, due to RC instability and due to decay of ion-acoustic turbulence generated by the return current, are made. The fastest time scale on which the return current delivers energy to the plasma due to the scattering of ion-sound waves by the electrons can be ∼ωpi−1 (ωpi being the plasma frequency for the ions).
Volume 96, 2022
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