electronic international standard serial number (EISSN)
Plasma detachment in propulsive magnetic nozzles is shown to be a robust phenomenon caused by the inability of the internal electric fields to bend most of the supersonic ions along the magnetic streamtubes. As a result, the plasma momentum is effectively ejected to produce thrust, and only a marginal fraction of the beam mass flows back. Detachment takes place even if quasineutrality holds everywhere and electrons are fully magnetized, and is intimately linked to the formation of local electric currents. The divergence angle of the 95%-mass flow tube is used as a quantitative detachment performance figure.
electric propulsion; magnetic nozzles; plasma detachment; magnetohydrodynamics