Covariant formulation of spatially non-symmetric kinetic equilibria in magnetized astrophysical plasmas
Astrophysical plasmas in the surrounding of compact objects and subject to intense gravitational and electromagnetic fields are believed to give rise to relativistic regimes. Theoretical and observational evidences suggest that magnetized plasmas of this type are collisionless and can persist for long times (e.g., with respect to a distant observer, coordinate, time), while exhibiting geometrical structures characterized by the absence of well-defined spatial symmetries. In this paper, the problem is posed whether such configurations can correspond to some kind of kinetic equilibrium. The issue is addressed from a theoretical perspective in the framework of a covariant Vlasov statistical description, which relies on the method of invariants. For this purpose, a systematic covariant variational formulation of gyrokinetic theory is developed, which holds without requiring any symmetry condition on the background fields. As a result, an asymptotic representation of the relativistic particle magnetic moment is obtained from its formal exact solution, in terms of a suitably defined invariant series expansion parameter (perturbative representation). On such a basis, it is shown that spatially non-symmetric kinetic equilibria can actually be determined, an example being provided by Gaussian-like distributions. As an application, the physical mechanisms related to the occurrence of a non-vanishing equilibrium fluid 4-flow are investigated.