In plasma physics, an Alfvén wave, named after Hannes Alfvén, is a type of magnetohydrodynamic wave in which ions oscillate in response to a restoring force provided by an effective tension on the magnetic field lines.<br />An Alfvén wave in a plasma is a low-frequency (compared to the ion cyclotron frequency) travelling oscillation of the ions and the magnetic field. The ion mass density provides the inertia and the magnetic field line tension provides the restoring force.
The wave propagates in the direction of the magnetic field, although waves exist at oblique incidence and smoothly change into the magnetosonic wave when the propagation is perpendicular to the magnetic field.The motion of the ions and the perturbation of the magnetic field are in the same direction and transverse to the direction of propagation. The wave is dispersionless. The velocity of an Alfvén wave is given by the equiation presented.Related formulas
|Alfvén velocity (m/s)
|magnetic field strength (T)
|Vacuum permeability (permeability of free space, permeability of vacuum or magnetic constant)
|Total mass density of the charged plasma particles (kg/m3)