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A Simple Method for Modeling Collision Processes in Plasmas with a Kappa Energy Distribution

Hahn, Michael; Savin, Daniel Wolf

We demonstrate that a nonthermal distribution of particles described by a kappa distribution can be accurately approximated by a weighted sum of Maxwell–Boltzmann distributions. We apply this method to modeling collision processes in kappa-distribution plasmas, with a particular focus on atomic processes important for solar physics. The relevant collision process rate coefficients are generated by summing appropriately weighted Maxwellian rate coefficients. This method reproduces the rate coefficients for a kappa distribution to an estimated accuracy of better than 3%. This is equal to or better than the accuracy of rate coefficients generated using "reverse-engineering" methods, which attempt to extract the needed cross sections from the published Maxwellian rate coefficient data and then reconvolve the extracted cross sections with the desired kappa distribution. Our approach of summing Maxwellian rate coefficients is easy to implement using existing spectral analysis software. Moreover, the weights in the sum of the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution rate coefficients can be found for any value of the parameter κ, thereby enabling one to model plasmas with a time-varying κ. Tabulated Maxwellian fitting parameters are given for specific values of κ from 1.7 to 100. We also provide polynomial fits to these parameters over this entire range. Several applications of our technique are presented, including the plasma equilibrium charge state distribution (CSD), predicting line ratios, modeling the influence of electron impact multiple ionization on the equilibrium CSD of kappa-distribution plasmas, and calculating the time-varying CSD of plasmas during a solar flare.


Also Published In

The Astrophysical Journal

More About This Work

Academic Units
Astrophysics Laboratory
Published Here
September 6, 2017