Electroweak plasma instabilities and supernovae

L O Silva, R Bingham, J M Dawson, W B Mori, J T Mendonça, P K Shukla

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Under violent astrophysical conditions, intense fluxes of neutrinos can drive a novel class of plasma instabilities: the electroweak versions of the standard electron- and photon-driven forward scattering instabilities. Employing the relativistic kinetic equations for the neutrinos interacting with a plasma via the weak interaction force, we explore the different collective plasma instabilities driven by neutrinos. We examine the anomalous energy transfer between the neutrinos and the background plasma via excitation of electron plasma waves (neutrino streaming instability), and the generation of quasi-static B fields (electroweak Weibel instability). The relevance of the electroweak plasma instabilities for the extreme conditions occurring in the lepton era of the early universe, supernovae II, and gamma ray bursters is pointed out. The impact on type II supernovae dynamics is examined, and estimates for the energy deposited via collective mechanisms behind the outgoing shock are presented. We show that electroweak plasma instabilities might play an important role in the re-energization of the stalled shock in SNe II.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)B223-B230
Number of pages8
JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Issue number12 Suppl. B
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2000


  • astrophysics
  • electron scattering
  • energy transfer
  • kinetic theory
  • plasma oscillations


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