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Double Layers and Circuits in Astrophysics

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As the rate of energy release in a double layer with voltage ¿V is P ¿ I¿V, a double layer must be treated as a part of a circuit which delivers the current I. As neither double layer nor circuit can be derived from magnetofluid models of a plasma, such models are useless for treating energy transfer by means of double layers. They must be replaced by particle models and circuit theory. A simple circuit is suggested which is applied to the energizing of auroral particles, to solar flares, and to intergalactic double radio sources. Application to the heliospheric current systems leads to the prediction of two double layers on the sun's axis which may give radiations detectable from Earth. Double layers in space should be classified as a new type of celestial object (one example is the double radio sources). It is tentatively suggested that X-ray and ¿-ray bursts may be due to exploding double layers (although annihilation is an alternative energy source). A study of how a number of the most used textbooks in astrophysics treat important concepts such as double layers, critical velocity, pinch effects, and circuits is made. It is found that students using these textbooks remain essentially ignorant of even the existence of these concepts, despite the fact that some of them have been well known for half a century (e.g., double layers, Langmuir, 1929; pinch effect, Bennet, 1934).

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 6 )