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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Elimination of numerical Cherenkov instability in flowing-plasma particle-in-cell simulations by using Galilean coordinates

  • Author(s): Lehe, R
  • Kirchen, M
  • Godfrey, BB
  • Maier, AR
  • Vay, JL
  • et al.

© 2016 American Physical Society. Particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations of relativistic flowing plasmas are of key interest to several fields of physics (including, e.g., laser-wakefield acceleration, when viewed in a Lorentz-boosted frame) but remain sometimes infeasible due to the well-known numerical Cherenkov instability (NCI). In this article, we show that, for a plasma drifting at a uniform relativistic velocity, the NCI can be eliminated by simply integrating the PIC equations in Galilean coordinates that follow the plasma (also sometimes known as comoving coordinates) within a spectral analytical framework. The elimination of the NCI is verified empirically and confirmed by a theoretical analysis of the instability. Moreover, it is shown that this method is applicable both to Cartesian geometry and to cylindrical geometry with azimuthal Fourier decomposition.

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