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Linear wave propagation in relativistic magnetohydrodynamics

By R. Keppens and Z. Meliani


The properties of linear Alfvén, slow, and fast magnetoacoustic waves for uniform plasmas in relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) are discussed, augmenting the well-known expressions for their phase speeds with knowledge on the group speed. A 3+1 formalism is purposely adopted to make direct comparison with the Newtonian MHD limits easier and to stress the graphical representation of their anisotropic linear wave properties using the phase and group speed diagrams. By drawing these for both the fluid rest frame and for a laboratory Lorentzian frame which sees the plasma move with a three-velocity having an arbitrary orientation with respect to the magnetic field, a graphical view of the relativistic aberration effects is obtained for all three MHD wave families. Moreover, it is confirmed that the classical Huygens construction relates the phase and group speed diagram in the usual way, even for the lab frame viewpoint. Since the group speed diagrams correspond to exact solutions for initial conditions corresponding to a localized point perturbation, their formulae and geometrical construction can serve to benchmark current high-resolution algorithms for numerical relativistic MHD

Year: 2008
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