Initially, elliptical, quasitwodimensional (2D) fluid vortices can split into multiple pieces if the aspect ratio is sufficiently large due to the growth and saturation of perturbations known as Love modes on the vortex edge. Presented here are experiments and numerical simulations, showing that the aspect ratio threshold for vortex splitting is significantly higher for vortices with realistic, smooth edges than that predicted by a simple “vortex patch” model, where the vorticity is treated as piecewise constant inside a deformable boundary. The experiments are conducted by exploiting the E × B drift dynamics of collisionless, pure electron plasmas in a Penning–Malmberg trap, which closely model 2D vortex dynamics due to an isomorphism between the Drift–Poisson equations describing the plasmas and the Euler equations describing ideal fluids. The simulations use a particleincell method to model the evolution of a set of point vortices. The aspect ratio splitting threshold ranges up to about twice as large as the vortex patch prediction and depends on the edge vorticity gradient. This is thought to be due to spatial Landau damping, which decreases the vortex aspect ratio over time and, thus, stabilizes the Love modes. Near the threshold, asymmetric splitting events are observed in which one of the split products contains much less circulation than the other. These results are relevant to a wide range of quasi2D fluid systems, including geophysical fluids, astrophysical disks, and driftwave eddies in tokamak plasmas.
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Free, publiclyaccessible full text available May 1, 2025

We describe theory and experiments investigating nonlinear beat wave decay of diocotron modes on a nonneutral plasma column (or Kelvin waves on a vortex). Specifically, a Kelvin/diocotron pump wave varying as Ap exp [i(lpθ−ωpt)] decays into two waves: a Kelvin/diocotron daughter wave with exponentially growing amplitude Ad(t), mode number ld<lp, and frequency ωd; and an exponentially growing “beat wave” with mode number lb and frequency ωb. Nonlinear wave–wave coupling requires lb=lp−ld and ωb=ωp−ωd. The new theory simplifies and extends a previous weakturbulence theory for the exponential growth rate of this instability, by instead using an eigenmode expansion to describe the beat wave as a wavepacket of continuum (Case/van Kampen) modes. The new theory predicts the growth rate, the nonlinear frequency shift (both proportional to Ap2), and the functional form of the beat wave, with amplitude proportional to ApAd*(t). Experiments observe beat wave decay on electron plasma columns for a range of mode numbers up to lp=5 and ld = 4, with results in quantitative agreement with the theory, including the ld = 1 case for which measured growth rates are negligible, as expected theoretically.
Free, publiclyaccessible full text available March 1, 2025 
This paper discusses thermal equilibrium states of singlespecies plasmas, such as pure electron plasmas and pure positron plasmas, that are confined in a dipole trap. Thermal equilibrium states for such plasmas are routinely realized in the homogeneous magnetic field of Penning–Malmberg traps. We generalize the theory of these states to include inhomogeneous magnetic dipole fields. The approach to thermal equilibrium takes place in two stages with well separated time scales. On the collision time scale, thermal equilibrium is established along each magnetic field line. On the much longer transport time scale, heat conduction and viscosity bring the plasmas on different flux contours into thermal equilibrium, we call this a state of global thermal equilibrium. We present numerical results for local and global thermal equilibria. These results agree with the analytic predictions for charge collections that are large compared with the Debye length. There is, in principle, no limit to the confinement time of a singlespecies plasma in a global thermal equilibrium state. Experiments with hot electron–ion plasmas performed in the LDX and RT1 devices give us confidence that, in contrast to a Penning–Malmberg trap, a magnetic dipole field can also confine cold quasineutral electron–positron pair plasmas on the time scale of the phenomena of interest. Such pair plasmas are assumed to form in the magnetosphere of neutron stars but have so far not been realized in a laboratory. The creation of an electron–positron pair plasma is the main goal of the APEX collaboration.more » « less

An Eulerian, numerical simulation is used to model the launching of plasma waves in a nonneutral plasma that is confined in a Penning–Malmberg trap. The waves are launched by applying an oscillating potential to an electrically isolated sector at one end of the conducting cylinder that bounds the confinement region and are received by another electrically isolated sector at the other end of the cylinder. The launching of both Trivelpiece–Gould waves and electron acoustic waves is investigated. Adopting a stratagem, the simulation captures essential features of the finite length plasma, while retaining the numerical advantages of a simulation employing periodic spatial boundary conditions. As a benchmark test of the simulation, the results for launched Trivelpiece–Gould waves of small amplitude are successfully compared to a linearized analytic solution for these fluctuations.

Inviscid spatial Landau damping is studied experimentally for the case of oscillatory motion of a twodimensional vortex about its elliptical equilibrium in the presence of an applied strain flow. The experiments are performed using electron plasmas in a Penning–Malmberg trap. They exploit the isomorphism between the twodimensional Euler equations for an ideal fluid and the driftPoisson equations for the plasma, where plasma density is the analog of vorticity. Perturbed elliptical vortex states are created using [Formula: see text] strain flows, which are generated by applying voltages to electrodes surrounding the plasma. Measurements of spatial Landau damping (also called criticallayer damping) are in agreement with previous studies in the absence of an applied strain, where the damping is due to a resonance between the local fluid motion and the vortex oscillations. Interestingly, the damping rate does not change significantly over a wide range of applied strain rates. This can be accurately predicted from the initial vorticity profile, even though the resonant frequency is reduced substantially due to the applied strain. For higher amplitude perturbations, nonlinear trapping oscillations also exhibit behavior similar to the strainfree case. In principle, higherorder effects of the applied strain, such as separatrix crossing of peripheral vorticity and interactions with harmonics of the fundamental resonance, are expected to change the damping rate. However, this occurs only for conditions that are not realized in the experiments described here. Vortexincell simulations are used to investigate the possible roles of these effects.more » « less