A MODEL OF THE BEAM-PLASMA DISCHARGE
Doctor of Philosophy
The beam-plasma instability is one of the most basic and general situations in plasma physics. Under suitable conditions, it gives rise to strong electrostatic waves, which interact with the plasma electrons and ions. If the neutral density is high enough, a charge is ignited, the Beam-Plasma Discharge. In this thesis, the onset of the strong-beam-plasma instability is studied, and scaling laws of the discharge ignition are obtained for different configurations. The mechanism responsible for the discharge, i.e., the energization of plasma electrons by the plasma waves, is also studied. The model proposed here is consistent with the experimental data, is free from the contradictions present in other models, and explains the observed discharge signatures (wave, light and particle characteristics). The agreement with the experimental scaling law is remarkably good.