Physical review letters

Experimental Observation of a Current-Driven Instability in a Neutral Electron-Positron Beam.

PMID 29219555


We report on the first experimental observation of a current-driven instability developing in a quasineutral matter-antimatter beam. Strong magnetic fields (≥1  T) are measured, via means of a proton radiography technique, after the propagation of a neutral electron-positron beam through a background electron-ion plasma. The experimentally determined equipartition parameter of ε_{B}≈10^{-3} is typical of values inferred from models of astrophysical gamma-ray bursts, in which the relativistic flows are also expected to be pair dominated. The data, supported by particle-in-cell simulations and simple analytical estimates, indicate that these magnetic fields persist in the background plasma for thousands of inverse plasma frequencies. The existence of such long-lived magnetic fields can be related to analog astrophysical systems, such as those prevalent in lepton-dominated jets.