Importance of centrifugal effects for the internal kink mode stability in toroidally rotating tokamak plasmas
Analytical theory and two different magnetohydrodynamical stability codes are used in a study of the effects of toroidal plasma rotation on the stability of the ideal, internal kink mode in tokamaks. The focus of the paper is on the role that the centrifugal effects on the plasma equilibrium play for the stability of this mode, and results from one code where centrifugal effects are self-consistently included (CASTOR-FLOW) [ E. Strumberger et al., Nucl. Fusion 45, 1156 (2005) ] are compared with the results from another code where such effects are not taken into account (MISHKA-F) [ I. T. Chapman et al., Phys. Plasmas 13, 062511 (2006) ]. It is found that, even at rather modest flow speeds, the centrifugal effects are very important for the stability of the internal kink mode. While the results from the two codes can be quite similar for certain profiles in the plasma, completely opposite results are obtained for other profiles. A very good agreement between analytical theory and the numerical results are, both for inconsistent and consistent equilibria, found for plasmas with large aspect ratio. From the analytical theory, the distinctly different stability properties of equilibria with and without centrifugal effects included can be traced to the stabilizing effect of the geodesic acoustic mode (GAM) induced by the plasma rotation. This GAM exists solely as a consequence of the nonuniform plasma density and pressure created by the centrifugal force on the flux surfaces, and a stabilizing coupling of the internal kink instability to this mode cannot therefore take place if the centrifugal effects are not included in the equilibrium. In addition to the GAM stabilization, the effects of the radial profiles of the plasma density and rotation velocity are also found to be significant, and the importance of these effects increases with decreasing aspect ratio.