Approximate symmetries of guiding-centre motion*

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In a strong, inhomogeneous magnetic field, charged particle dynamics may be studied in the guiding-centre approximation, which is known to be Hamiltonian. When the magnetic field is quasisymmetric, the first-order guiding-centre (FGC) Hamiltonian structure admits a continuous symmetry, and therefore a conserved quantity in addition to the energy. Since the FGC system is only an approximation, it is also interesting to consider approximate symmetries of the guiding-centre Hamiltonian structure. We find that any approximate spatial symmetry coincides with quasisymmetry to leading order. For approximate phase-space symmetries, we derive weaker conditions than quasisymmetry. The latter include ‘weak quasisymmetry’ as a subcase, recently proposed by Rodríguez et al. Our results, however, show that weak quasisymmetry is necessarily non-spatial at first order. Finally, we demonstrate that if the magnetic field is constrained to satisfy magnetohydrostatic force balance then an approximate symmetry must agree with quasisymmetry to leading order.

Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
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