Double Layers in Linearly Stable Plasma

  1. Tom Chang,
  2. M. K. Hudson,
  3. J. R. Jasperse,
  4. R. G. Johnson,
  5. P. M. Kintner and
  6. M. Schulz
  1. Robert H. Berman,
  2. David J. Tetreault and
  3. Thomas H. Dupree

Published Online: 21 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM038p0328

Ion Acceleration in the Magnetosphere and Ionosphere

Ion Acceleration in the Magnetosphere and Ionosphere

How to Cite

Berman, R. H., Tetreault, D. J. and Dupree, T. H. (1986) Double Layers in Linearly Stable Plasma, in Ion Acceleration in the Magnetosphere and Ionosphere (eds T. Chang, M. K. Hudson, J. R. Jasperse, R. G. Johnson, P. M. Kintner and M. Schulz), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM038p0328

Author Information

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1986

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900636

Online ISBN: 9781118664216



  • Magnetosphere—Congresses;
  • Ionosphere—Congresses;
  • Ion flow dynamics—Congresses;
  • Space plasmas—Congresses


An unstable, highly intermittent state of turbulence has been observed to evolve from a quiescent, homogeneous simulation plasma that is linearly stable. This intermittent state consists of isolated phase space density holes that have double layer potential structures. The plasma is nonlinearly unstable because the holes grow in amplitude by accelerating to regions of higher average phase space density. The instability can be interpreted as a collection of colliding, growing holes. A series of simulations with a single isolated hole indicates that an isolated hole grows for any finite electron-ion drift velocity. The nonlinear hole instability growth rate is consistent with theoretical predictions. It is suggested that the instability can explain the observation of intermittent double layers on auroral field lines where the currents are small and the ion and electron temperatures are comparable.