What is the theoretical limit to sound speed in a plasma?

In a monoatomic gas, it can be demonstrated that the equation of state in the relativistic regime is given by $\rho = \rho_0 + 3p/c^2$, which would indicate the maximum speed of sound for this gas is $c/\sqrt{3}$ instead of $c$. In a plasma, the mechanism for sound is based on the pressure of electrons and inertia of the ions, which is typically given in the non-relativistic regime by $\sqrt{\frac {\gamma_e T_e + \gamma_i T_i}{m_i}}$.

In the ultra-relativistic regime, I would suspect the total pressure and inertia to involve significant contributions from both ions and electrons, and the expression to be modified since the mechanism is based on fluctuating electric fields which may be enhanced at scales below the DeBye length when the charged electrons and ions are ultra-relativistic.

  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Are there limits for the speed of sound? A maximum or a minimum only? $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos May 11 '18 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ There certainly are limits on the speed of sound (as alluded above). But in a plasma where electromagnetic effects could possibly suppress or amplify certain oscillations as observed in ion-acoustic waves, I am inquiring about the relativistic limit in plasmas specifically. $\endgroup$ – Mathews24 May 11 '18 at 21:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.