Richtmyer-Meshkov instability of a thermal interface in a two-fluid plasma

D. Bond, V. Wheatley*, R. Samtaney, D. I. Pullin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We computationally investigate the Richtmyer-Meshkov instability of a density interface with a single-mode perturbation in a two-fluid, ion-electron plasma with no initial magnetic field. Self-generated magnetic fields arise subsequently. We study the case where the density jump across the initial interface is due to a thermal discontinuity, and select plasma parameters for which two-fluid plasma effects are expected to be significant in order to elucidate how they alter the instability. The instability is driven via a Riemann problem generated precursor electron shock that impacts the density interface ahead of the ion shock. The resultant charge separation and motion generates electromagnetic fields that cause the electron shock to degenerate and periodically accelerate the electron and ion interfaces, driving Rayleigh-Taylor instability. This generates small-scale structures and substantially increases interfacial growth over the hydrodynamic case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-363
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Dec 25 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Cambridge University Press.


  • MHD and electrohydrodynamics
  • instability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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