Section: New Results

Development of reduced Eulerian methods

Participants : E. Chacon Golcher, P. Helluy, L. Navoret, N. Pham.

Eulerian methods in the physical phase-space

Kinetic plasmas computer simulations are very intensive, because of the gyrokinetic turbulence. In some situations, it is possible to make assumptions on the shape of the distribution function that simplify the model. We obtain in this way a family of fluid or reduced models.If the distribution function has a Maxwellian shape (strong collisions), we obtain the MagnetoHydroDynamic (MHD) model. Even without collisions, the plasma may still relax to an equilibrium state over sufficiently long time scales (Landau damping effect). This indicates that the approximation of the distribution function could require fewer data while still achieving a good representation, even in the collisionless regime. In what follows we call this the “reduced model” approach. A reduced model is a model where the explicit dependence on the velocity variable is suppressed. In a more mathematical way, we consider that in some regions of the plasma, it is possible to exhibit a (preferably small) set of parameters α that allows us to describe the main properties of the plasma with a generalized “Maxwellian” M . Then f(x,v,t)=M(α(x,t),v). In this case it is sufficient to solve for α(x,t) . Generally, the vector α is solution of a first order hyperbolic system.

Several approaches are possible that we have started to study theoretically and numerically: waterbag approximations, velocity space transforms, etc.

It is also possible to construct in this way intermediate models between the kinetic and the fluid models by truncating the velocity expansion. The unknowns α of the problem become the coefficients of the expansion, which depend only on space and time. They obey a first order hyperbolic PDE system. And then it is possible to capitalize on the large theoretical and numerical machinery developed for such PDEs.

A first step is to develop the one-dimensional models in order to test several numerical methods. The chosen approach is the high order Discontinuous Galerkin (DG) family of methods for solving the hyperbolic system. We compare the reduced Eulerian model with semi-Lagrangian or PIC methods on classical test cases: Landau damping, two-stream instability [28] .

Eulerian method in the Fourier transformed phase-space

An experiment made in the 60's (Malmberg, J. and Wharton, C. Collisionless damping of electrostatic plasma waves. Phys. Rev. Lett. 13, 6 (1964), 184–186.) exhibits in a spectacular way the reversible nature of the Vlasov equations. When two perturbations are applied to a plasma at different times, at first the plasma seems to damp and reach an equilibrium. But the information of the perturbations is still here and “hidden” in the high frequency microscopic oscillations of the distribution function. At a later time a resonance occurs and the plasma produces an echo. The time at which the echo occurs can be computed (see Villani(Villani, C. Landau damping. CEMRACS 2010 lectures.), page 74). The fine mathematical study of this phenomenon allowed C. Villani and C. Mouhot to prove their famous result on the rigorous nonlinear Landau damping(Mouhot, C. ; Villani, C. On Landau damping, Acta Mathematica 207 (September 2011), 29-201.).

More practically, this experiment and its theoretical framework show that it is interesting to represent the distribution function by an truncated expansion on an orthonormal basis of oscillating functions in the velocity variables. This representation allows a better control of the energy transfer between the low frequencies and the high frequencies in the velocity direction, and thus provides more relevant numerical methods. This kind of approach is studied for instance by Eliasson (Eliasson, B. Outflow boundary conditions for the Fourier transformed one-dimensional Vlasov-Poisson system. J. Sci. Comput. 16 (2001), no. 1, 1–28.).

We have started to study such kind of approaches in [43] . An interesting point is that the truncated reduced model is also an hyperbolic system in the space direction only. This allows the classical methods for hyperbolic systems to be reused.