Stringent limitations on reductive perturbation studies of nonplanar acoustic solitons in plasmas
Physics of Plasmas
More than fifty years ago, the Korteweg-de Vries equation was shown to describe not only solitary surface waves on shallow water, but also nonlinear ion-acoustic waves. Because of the algorithmic ease of using reductive perturbation theory, intensive research followed on a wide range of wave types. Soon, the formalism was extended to nonplanar modes by introducing a stretching designed to accommodate spherically and cylindrically symmetric ion-acoustic waves. Over the last two decades many
... o decades many authors followed this approach, but almost all have ignored the severe restrictions in parameter space imposed by the Ansatz. In addition, for other steps in the formalism, the justification is often not spelled out, leading to effects that are physically undesirable or ambiguous. Hence, there is a need to critically assess this approach to nonplanar modes and to use it with the utmost care, respecting the restrictions on its validity. Only inward propagation may be meaningfully studied and respect for weak nonlinearities of at most 1/10 implies that one cannot get closer to the axis or centre of symmetry than about 30 Debye lengths. Thus, one is in a regime where the modes are quasi-planar and not particularly interesting. Most papers disregard these constraints and hence reach questionable conclusions. Published by AIP Publishing.