Axisymmetric electrostatic magnetohydrodynamic oscillations in tokamaks with general cross-sections and toroidal flow

M. S. Chu, Wenfeng Guo

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The frequency spectrum and mode structure of axisymmetric electrostatic oscillations [the zonal flow (ZF), sound waves (SW), geodesic acoustic modes (GAM), and electrostatic mean flows (EMF)] in tokamaks with general cross-sections and toroidal flows are studied analytically using the electrostatic approximation for magnetohydrodynamic modes. These modes constitute the "electrostatic continua." Starting from the energy principle for a tokamak plasma with toroidal rotation, we showed that these modes are completely stable. The ZF, the SW, and the EMF could all be viewed as special cases of the general GAM. The Euler equations for the general GAM are obtained and are solved analytically for both the low and high range of Mach numbers. The solution consists of the usual countable infinite set of eigen-modes with discrete eigen-frequencies, and two modes with lower frequencies. The countable infinite set is identified with the regular GAM. The lower frequency mode, which is also divergence free as the plasma rotation tends to zero, is identified as the ZF. The other lower (zero) frequency mode is a pure geodesic E×B flow and not divergence free is identified as the EMF. The frequency of the EMF is shown to be exactly 0 independent of plasma cross-section or its flow Mach number. We also show that in general, sound waves with no geodesic components are (almost) completely lost in tokamaks with a general cross-sectional shape. The exception is the special case of strict up-down symmetry. In this case, half of the GAMs would have no geodesic displacements. They are identified as the SW. Present day tokamaks, although not strictly up-down symmetric, usually are only slightly up-down asymmetric. They are expected to share the property with the up-down symmetric tokamak in that half of the GAMs would be more sound wave-like, i.e.; have much weaker coupling to the geodesic components than the other half of non-sound-wave-like modes with stronger coupling to the geodesic displacements. Based on the general notion that the geodesic component of the GAM is more effective in tearing up the eddies in the electrostatic turbulence, it is important to preferentially excite the GAMs that are non-sound-wave like to maximize the efficiency on turbulence suppression through external means. Finally, approximate formulae for the frequencies of the EMF, ZF, SW, and the GAM for a large aspect ratio circular tokamak rotating at low Mach numbers are also provided.

Original languageEnglish
Article number062508
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics

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