On the non-existence of stepped-pressure equilibria far from symmetry

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Journal Article

The Stepped Pressure Equilibrium Code (SPEC) (Hudson et al 2012 Phys. Plasmas 19 112502) has been successful in the construction of equilibria in 3D configurations that contain a mixture of flux surfaces, islands and chaotic magnetic field lines. In this model, the plasma is sliced into sub-volumes separated by ideal interfaces, and in each volume the magnetic field is a Beltrami field. In the cases where the system is far from possessing a continuous symmetry, such as in stellarators, the existence of solutions to a stepped-pressure equilibrium with given constraints, such as a multi-region relaxed MHD minimum energy state, is not guaranteed but is often taken for granted. Using SPEC, we have studied two different scenarios in which a solution fails to exist in a slab with analytic boundary perturbations. We found that with a large boundary perturbation, a certain interface becomes fractal, corresponding to the break up of a Kolmogorov–Arnold–Moser (KAM) surface. Moreover, an interface can only support a maximum pressure jump while a solution of the magnetic field consistent with the force balance condition can be found. An interface closer to break-up can support a smaller pressure jump. We discovered that the pressure jump can push the interface closer to being non-smooth through force balance, thus significantly decreasing the maximum pressure it can support. Our work shows that a convergence study must be performed on a SPEC equilibrium with interfaces close to break-up. These results may also provide insights into the choice of interfaces and have applications in finding out the maximum pressure a machine can support.

Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Date Published