ENGS 152/PHYS 115:  Magnetohydrodynamics











Course Objectives

2013 Schedule



School of




pdf version


The fluid description of plasmas and electrically conducting fluids including magnetohydrodynamics and two-fluid fluid theory. Applications to laboratory and space plasmas including magnetostatics, stationary flows, waves, instabilities, and shocks.

Prerequisite: PHYS 68 or equivalent, or permission of instructor.


William Lotko  


Room 217b, Cummings Hall








Office Hours:

Open, anytime or by appointment



Tentatively, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:00-4:00 pm, plus Wednesday (X-hour) from 4:15-5:05 pm The x-hour may be used occasionally. An alternative class time will be discussed at the first class meeting on January 4.


Principles of Magnetohydrodynamics: With Applications to Laboratory and Astrophysical Plasmas

Authors: J. P. Hans Goedbloed and Stefaan Poedts

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2004

ISBN-13: 9780521626071 | ISBN-10: 0521626072


The course grade is based on performance on homework and examinations with the following weights:

  Weekly Homework 55%
  Midterm Exam 20%
  Final Exam 25%

Additional information about the course objectives can be found in the circular "ENGS152/PHYS115: Objectives".


More information about this course, including lecture notes, handouts, and links to useful information, is available at the ENGS152/PHYS115  Blackboard site. You can login to Blackboard using your DND username and password. If you have registered for ENGS 152 or PHYS 115, you will see a link in your "My Courses" list.


Additional references on various aspects of magnetohydrodynamics are listed below. They range from general treatments of plasma physics, including magnetohydrodynamics, to topical treatments of magnetic reconnection and magnetohydrodynamic turbulence, and applications to space, fusion and engineering magnetohydrodynamics. You will find all of these books in the Dartmouth library. Follow the link on the cover image below for more information about each text.

Gurnett and Bhattacharjee, "Introduction to Plasma Physics" 2005
covers "basic plasma theory, with applications to both space and laboratory plasmas". We follow their treatment of shock waves in a collisionless plasma.
Boyd and Sanderson, "The Physics of Plasmas" 2003 "comprehensive introduction to the subject, illustrating the basic theory with examples drawn from fusion, space and astrophysical plasmas". We follow their general treatment of interchange instability using the energy principle.
Bellan, "Fundamentals of Plasma Physics" 2008 "rigorous explanation of plasmas relevant to diverse plasma applications such as controlled fusion, astrophysical plasmas, solar physics, magnetospheric plasmas, and plasma thrusters"

Polovin and Demutskii "Fundamentals of Magnetohydrodynamics" 1990

development of magnetohydrodynamics with collisional transport, magnetohydrostatics, stationary flows, shocks, waves, turbulence and dynamos
Priest and Forbes, "Magnetic Reconnection: MHD Theory and Applications" 2007 “pedagogical account of the basic theory and a wide-ranging review of the physical phenomena created by reconnection". We follow their treatment of magnetic annihilation and Sweet-Parker and Petschek reconnection.
Biskamp, "Magnetohydrodynamic Turbulence" 2008 "a brief outline of the magnetohydrodynamic theory and discussion of the macroscopic aspects of MHD turbulence, including the small-scale scaling properties"
Kulsrud, "Plasma Physics for Astrophysics" 2004 "introduces plasma physics from the ground up, presenting it as a comprehensible field that can be grasped largely on the basis of physical intuition and qualitative reasoning, similar to other fields of physics"
Priest, "Solar Magnetohydrodynamics" 1984 "a comprehensive review of present magnetohydrodynamic models in solar physics ... also an excellent text for a graduate on magnetohydrodynamics"
Schindler, "Physics of Space Plasma Activity" 2006 "a coherent and detailed treatment of the physical background of large plasma eruptions in space ... employs both fluid and kinetic models, and discusses the applications to magnetospheric and solar activity."
Schunk and Nagy, "Ionospheres: Physics, Plasma Physics, and Chemistry", 2nd ed. 2009 "a comprehensive description of the physical, plasma and chemical processes controlling the behavior of ionospheres. The relevant transport equations and related coefficients are derived in detail and their applicability and limitations are described"
Freidberg, "Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy" 2008 "covers energy issues such as the production of fusion power, power balance, the design of a simple fusion reactor, and the basic plasma physics issues faced by the developers of fusion power"
Schnack, "Lectures in Magnetohydrodynamics, With an Appendix on Extended MHD" 2009 Lecture notes from a similar course taught at U Wisconsin. Online version and pdf chapters can be accessed (Dartmouth license) at http://tinyurl.com/33gygm8
Goedbloed, Keppens and Poedts, "Advanced Magnetohydrodynamics" 2010 Companion to the textbook "Principles of Magnetohydrodynamics" by the same authors with treatment of more advanced topics including applications to thermonuclear fusion and plasma astrophysics.
Müller and Bühler, "Magnetofluiddynamics in Channels and Containers" 2001 fundamentals of magnetohydrodynamics with treatment of magneto-thermohydraulics in liquid metal flows influenced by magnetic fields ... contains many new results that can be utilized for the design and optimization of various technical systems and processes, including nuclear fusion reactors.
Sutton and Sherman, "Engineering Magnetohydrodynamics" 1965 in three parts, "I. properties of ionized gases in magnetic and electric fields, essentially following the microscopic viewpoint, II. macroscopic motion of electrically conducting compressible fluids. III. applications of magnetohydrodynamics". We follow their treatment of MHD channel flows.