The magnetoacoustic cyclotron instability (MCI) probably underlies observations of ion cyclotron emission (ICE) from energetic ion populations in tokamak plasmas, including fusion-born alpha-particles in JET and TFTR [Dendy et al., Nucl. Fusion 35, 1733 (1995)]. ICE is a potential diagnostic for lost alpha-particles in ITER; furthermore, the MCI is representative of a class of collective instabilities, which may result in the partial channelling of the free energy of energetic ions into radiation, and away from collisional heating of the plasma. Deep understanding of the MCI is thus of substantial practical interest for fusion, and the hybrid approximation for the plasma, where ions are treated as particles and electrons as a neutralising massless fluid, offers an attractive way forward. The hybrid simulations presented here access MCI physics that arises on timescales longer than can be addressed by fully kinetic particle-in-cell simulations and by analytical linear theory, which the present simulations largely corroborate. Our results go further than previous studies by entering into the nonlinear stage of the MCI, which shows novel features. These include stronger drive at low cyclotron harmonics, the re-energisation of the alpha-particle population, self-modulation of the phase shift between the electrostatic and electromagnetic components, and coupling between low and high frequency modes of the excited electromagnetic field.

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