Resistive stability of cylindrical MHD equilibria with radially localized pressure gradients *

Publication Year


Journal Article

As a step toward understanding 3D magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) equilibria, for which smooth solutions may not exist, we develop a simple cylindrical model to investigate the resistive stability of MHD equilibria with alternating regions of constant and nonuniform pressure, producing states with continuous total pressure (i.e., no singular current sheets) but discontinuities in the parallel current density. We examine how the resistive stability characteristics of the model change as we increase the localization of pressure gradients at fixed radii, which approaches a discontinuous pressure profile in the zero-width limit. Equilibria with continuous pressure are found to be unstable to moderate/high-m modes and apparently tend toward ideal instability in some cases. We propose that additional geometric degrees of freedom or symmetry breaking via island formation may increase the parameter space on which equilibria of our model are physically realizable, while preserving the radial localization of pressure gradients. This is consistent with the possibility of realizing, in practice, 3D MHD equilibria which support both continuously nested flux surfaces (where ∇p 0) and chaotic field regions (where ∇p =0).

Physics of Plasmas
Date Published