Some Instabilities of a Completely Ionized Plasma

M. Kruskal , M. Schwarzschild


Two cases of equilibrium for a highly conducting plasma are investigated for their stability. In the first case, a plasma is supported against gravity by the pressure of a horizontal magnetic field. This equilibrium is found unstable, in close correspondence to the classical case of a heavy fluid supported by a light one. The second case refers to the so-called pinch effect. Here a plasma is kept within a cylinder by the pressure of a toroidal magnetic field which in turn is caused by an electric current within the plasma. This equilibrium is found unstable against lateral distortions.