Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-19-2011

Publication Title

Annales Geophysicae

Abstract

We investigate the transformation of the distri- bution function in the relativistic case, a problem of interest in plasma when particles with high (relativistic) velocities come into play as for instance in radiation belt physics, in the electron-cyclotron maser radiation theory, in the vicin- ity of high-Mach number shocks where particles are acceler- ated to high speeds, and generally in solar and astrophysical plasmas. We show that the phase-space volume element is a Lorentz constant and construct the general particle distri- bution function from first principles. Application to thermal equilibrium lets us derive a modified version of the isotropic relativisticthermaldistribution,themodifiedJu ̈ttnerdistribu- tion corrected for the Lorentz-invariant phase-space volume element. Finally, we discuss the relativistic modification of a number of plasma parameters.

DOI

10.5194/angeo-29-1259-2011

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