Drift-Alfvén fluctuations and transport in multiple interacting magnetized electron temperature filaments
The results of a basic electron heat transport experiment using multiple localized heat sources in close proximity and embedded in a large magnetized plasma are presented. The set-up consists of three biased probe-mounted crystal cathodes, arranged in a triangular spatial pattern, that inject low energy electrons along a strong magnetic field into a pre-existing, cold afterglow plasma, forming electron temperature filaments. When the three sources are activated and placed within a few collisionless electron skin depths of each other, a non-azimuthally symmetric wave pattern emerges due to interference of the drift-Alfvén modes that form on each filament's temperature gradient. Enhanced cross-field transport from chaotic (E× B, where E is the electric field and B the magnetic field) mixing rapidly relaxes the gradients in the inner triangular region of the filaments and leads to growth of a global nonlinear drift-Alfvén mode that is driven by the thermal gradient in the outer region of the triangle. Azimuthal flow shear arising from the emissive cathode sources modifies the linear eigenmode stability and convective pattern. A steady-current model with emissive sheath boundary predicts the plasma potential and shear flow contribution from the sources.