New observations of sub-cyclotron frequency instability in low aspect ratio plasmas in national spherical torus experiments are reported. The frequencies of observed instabilities correlate with the characteristic Alfvén velocity of the plasma. A theory of localized compressional Alfvén eigenmodes (CAE) and global shear Alfvén eigenmodes (GAE) in low aspect ratio plasmas is presented to explain the observed high frequency instabilities. CAEs/GAEs are driven by the velocity space gradient of energetic super-Alfvénic beam ions via Doppler shifted cyclotron resonances. One of the main damping mechanisms of GAEs, the continuum damping, is treated perturbatively within the framework of ideal MHD. Properties of these cyclotron instability ions are presented.
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