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An important field of plasma physics is the stability of the plasma. It usually only makes sense to analyze the stability of a plasma once it has been established that the plasma is in equilibrium. "Equilibrium" asks whether there are net forces that will accelerate any part of the plasma. If there are not, then "stability" asks whether a small perturbation will grow, oscillate, or be damped out.
In many cases a plasma can be treated as a fluid and its stability analyzed with magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). MHD theory is the simplest representation of a plasma, so MHD stability is a necessity for stable devices to be used for nuclear fusion, specifically magnetic fusion energy. There are, however, other types of instabilities, such as velocityspace instabilities in magnetic mirrors and systems with beams. There are also rare cases of systems, e.g. the FieldReversed Configuration, predicted by MHD to be unstable, but which are observed to be stable, probably due to kinetic effects.
Contents
Plasma instabilities
Plasma instabilities can be divided into two general groups:
Plasma instabilities are also categorised into different modes:
Source: Andre Gsponer, "Physics of highintensity highenergy particle beam propagation in open air and outerspace plasmas" (2004)^{[1]}
List of plasma instabilities
 Bennett pinch instability (also called the zpinch instability )
 Beam acoustic instability
 Bumpintail instability
 Buneman instability,^{[2]}
 Cherenkov instability,^{[3]}
 Chute instability
 Coalescence instability,^{[4]}
 Collapse instability
 Counterstreaming instability
 Cyclotron instabilities, including:
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