Pre-sheath density drop induced by ion-neutral friction along plasma blobs and implications for blob velocities
The pre-sheath density drop along the magnetic field in field-aligned, radially propagating plasma blobs is investigated in the TORPEX toroidal experiment [Fasoli et al., Plasma Phys. Controlled Fusion 52, 124020 (2010)]. Using Langmuir probes precisely aligned along the magnetic field, we measure the density n(se) at a poloidal limiter, where blobs are connected, and the upstream density n(0) at a location half way to the other end of the blobs. The pre-sheath density drop n(se)/n(0) is then computed and its dependence upon the neutral background gas pressure is studied. At low neutral gas pressures, the pre-sheath density drop is approximate to 0.4, close to the value of 0.5 expected in the collisionless case. In qualitative agreement with a simple model, this value decreases with increasing gas pressure. No significant dependence of the density drop upon the radial distance into the limiter shadow is observed. The effect of reduced blob density near the limiter on the blob radial velocity is measured and compared with predictions from a blob speed-versus-size scaling law [Theiler et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 065001 (2009)].