skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Plasmoid statistics in relativistic magnetic reconnection

Abstract

Plasmoids, overdense blobs of plasma containing magnetic fields and high-energy particles, are a self-consistent outcome of the reconnection process in the relativistic regime. Recent two-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations have shown that plasmoids can sustain a variety of processes (e.g. mergers, bulk acceleration, growth, and advection) within the reconnection layer. We developed a Monte Carlo code, benchmarked with the recent PIC simulations, to examine the effects of these processes on the steady-state size and momentum distributions of the plasmoid chain. The differential plasmoid size distribution is shown to be a power law, ranging from a few plasma skin depths to ~0.1 of the reconnection layer’s length. The power-law slope is shown to be linearly dependent upon the ratio of the plasmoid acceleration and growth rates, which slightly decreases with increasing plasma magnetization. We perform a detailed comparison of our results with those of recent PIC simulations and briefly discuss the astrophysical implications of our findings through the representative case of flaring events from blazar jets.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3];  [2]
  1. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States); Princeton Univ., NJ (United States)
  2. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States)
  3. Columbia Univ., New York, NY (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Fusion Energy Sciences (FES)
OSTI Identifier:
1523832
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0016542
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 475; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 0035-8711
Publisher:
Royal Astronomical Society
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; accretion; accretion discs; magnetic reconnection; gamma-ray burst: general; galaxies: jets

Citation Formats

Petropoulou, M., Christie, I. M., Sironi, L., and Giannios, D. Plasmoid statistics in relativistic magnetic reconnection. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1093/mnras/sty033.
Petropoulou, M., Christie, I. M., Sironi, L., & Giannios, D. Plasmoid statistics in relativistic magnetic reconnection. United States. doi:10.1093/mnras/sty033.
Petropoulou, M., Christie, I. M., Sironi, L., and Giannios, D. Tue . "Plasmoid statistics in relativistic magnetic reconnection". United States. doi:10.1093/mnras/sty033. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1523832.
@article{osti_1523832,
title = {Plasmoid statistics in relativistic magnetic reconnection},
author = {Petropoulou, M. and Christie, I. M. and Sironi, L. and Giannios, D.},
abstractNote = {Plasmoids, overdense blobs of plasma containing magnetic fields and high-energy particles, are a self-consistent outcome of the reconnection process in the relativistic regime. Recent two-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations have shown that plasmoids can sustain a variety of processes (e.g. mergers, bulk acceleration, growth, and advection) within the reconnection layer. We developed a Monte Carlo code, benchmarked with the recent PIC simulations, to examine the effects of these processes on the steady-state size and momentum distributions of the plasmoid chain. The differential plasmoid size distribution is shown to be a power law, ranging from a few plasma skin depths to ~0.1 of the reconnection layer’s length. The power-law slope is shown to be linearly dependent upon the ratio of the plasmoid acceleration and growth rates, which slightly decreases with increasing plasma magnetization. We perform a detailed comparison of our results with those of recent PIC simulations and briefly discuss the astrophysical implications of our findings through the representative case of flaring events from blazar jets.},
doi = {10.1093/mnras/sty033},
journal = {Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society},
number = 3,
volume = 475,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {1}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 5 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Figures / Tables:

Figure 1 Figure 1: Plot of the initial plasmoid momentum versus the initial plasmoid location in the layer for plasma magnetization $σ$ = 10 (open symbols). All plasmoids formed in the layer during the course of the PIC simulation are taken into account. Data are obtained from SGP16. The horizontal black dashedmore » lines indicate the asymptotic momentum $\sqrt{σ}$ . The average initial four-velocity of the plasmoid distribution (solid green line) can be well described by equation (1) shown by the magenta dash–dotted line. Dashed green lines indicate the one standard deviation of $p$0.« less

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Chi-square tests for comparing weighted histograms
journal, March 2010

  • Gagunashvili, N. D.
  • Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, Vol. 614, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.nima.2009.12.037

Unified Schemes for Radio-Loud Active Galactic Nuclei
journal, June 1995

  • Urry, C. Megan; Padovani, Paolo
  • Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 107
  • DOI: 10.1086/133630

General theory of the plasmoid instability
journal, October 2016

  • Comisso, L.; Lingam, M.; Huang, Y. -M.
  • Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 23, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1063/1.4964481

Structured coronae of accretion disks
journal, April 1979

  • Galeev, A. A.; Rosner, R.; Vaiana, G. S.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 229
  • DOI: 10.1086/156957

Ground-Based Gamma Ray Astronomy
journal, August 2014


Plasmoid instability in high-Lundquist-number magnetic reconnection
journal, May 2013

  • Huang, Yi-Min; Bhattacharjee, A.
  • Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 20, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1063/1.4802941

Magnetic reconnection at the termination shock in a striped pulsar wind
journal, August 2007


A two-phase model for the X-ray emission from Seyfert galaxies
journal, October 1991

  • Haardt, F.; Maraschi, L.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 380
  • DOI: 10.1086/186171

THE THIRD CATALOG OF ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI DETECTED BY THE FERMI LARGE AREA TELESCOPE
journal, August 2015


A model of gamma-ray bursts
journal, October 1994

  • Thompson, Christopher
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 270, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/270.3.480

The Generation of Nonthermal Particles in the Relativistic Magnetic Reconnection of Pair Plasmas
journal, November 2001

  • Zenitani, S.; Hoshino, M.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 562, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1086/337972

Extended and Compact Extragalactic Radio Sources: Interpretation and Theory
journal, March 1978


Blazar flares powered by plasmoids in relativistic reconnection
journal, July 2016

  • Petropoulou, Maria; Giannios, Dimitrios; Sironi, Lorenzo
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 462, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw1832

On the nature of non-thermal radiation from cosmological  -ray bursters
journal, April 1994


THE FIRST CATALOG OF ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI DETECTED BY THE FERMI LARGE AREA TELESCOPE
journal, April 2010


FERMI OBSERVATIONS OF GRB 090510: A SHORT-HARD GAMMA-RAY BURST WITH AN ADDITIONAL, HARD POWER-LAW COMPONENT FROM 10 keV TO GeV ENERGIES
journal, May 2010


Efficient acceleration and radiation in Poynting flux powered GRB outflows
journal, August 2002


Helical kink Instability in a Confined Solar Eruption
journal, November 2016


Hydromagnetic flows from accretion discs and the production of radio jets
journal, August 1982

  • Blandford, R. D.; Payne, D. G.
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 199, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/199.4.883

Relativistic Reconnection: an Efficient Source of Non-Thermal Particles
journal, February 2014


MINUTE-TIMESCALE >100 MeV γ -RAY VARIABILITY DURING THE GIANT OUTBURST OF QUASAR 3C 279 OBSERVED BY FERMI -LAT IN 2015 JUNE
journal, June 2016


Reconnection-driven plasmoids in blazars: fast flares on a slow envelope
journal, February 2013

  • Giannios, Dimitrios
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 431, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt167

Formation of Hard Power Laws in the Energetic Particle Spectra Resulting from Relativistic Magnetic Reconnection
journal, October 2014


Magnetic Driving of Relativistic Outflows in Active Galactic Nuclei. I. Interpretation of Parsec‐Scale Accelerations
journal, April 2004

  • Vlahakis, Nektarios; Konigl, Arieh
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 605, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1086/382670

Instability of current sheets and formation of plasmoid chains
journal, October 2007

  • Loureiro, N. F.; Schekochihin, A. A.; Cowley, S. C.
  • Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 14, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1063/1.2783986

Fast Magnetic Reconnection in the Plasmoid-Dominated Regime
journal, December 2010


Scaling laws of resistive magnetohydrodynamic reconnection in the high-Lundquist-number, plasmoid-unstable regime
journal, June 2010

  • Huang, Yi-Min; Bhattacharjee, A.
  • Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 17, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1063/1.3420208

Magnetic Reconnection Onset via Disruption of a Forming Current Sheet by the Tearing Instability
journal, March 2016


Radiative Magnetic Reconnection Near Accreting Black Holes
journal, November 2017


Prompt GRB emission from gradual energy dissipation
journal, January 2008


Reconnection in a Striped Pulsar Wind
journal, January 2001

  • Lyubarsky, Y.; Kirk, J. G.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 547, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1086/318354

Magnetic reconnection and stochastic plasmoid chains in high-Lundquist-number plasmas
journal, April 2012

  • Loureiro, N. F.; Samtaney, R.; Schekochihin, A. A.
  • Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 19, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1063/1.3703318

Electromagnetic extraction of energy from Kerr black holes
journal, July 1977

  • Blandford, R. D.; Znajek, R. L.
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 179, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/179.3.433

Distribution of Plasmoids in High-Lundquist-Number Magnetic Reconnection
journal, December 2012


The termination shock in a striped pulsar wind
journal, October 2003


On the Distribution of Particle Acceleration Sites in Plasmoid-Dominated Relativistic Magnetic Reconnection
journal, December 2015

  • Nalewajko, Krzysztof; Uzdensky, Dmitri A.; Cerutti, Benoît
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 815, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/815/2/101

Simulations of Particle Acceleration Beyond the Classical Synchrotron Burnoff Limit in Magnetic Reconnection: an Explanation of the crab Flares
journal, June 2013


Acceleration of Particles at the Termination Shock of a Relativistic Striped wind
journal, October 2011


Fast TeV variability from misaligned minijets in the jet of M87
journal, March 2010

  • Giannios, Dimitrios; Uzdensky, Dmitri A.; Begelman, Mitchell C.
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 402, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.16045.x

Direct Observations of the Magnetic Reconnection Site of an Eruption on 2003 November 18
journal, April 2005

  • Lin, J.; Ko, Y. ‐K.; Sui, L.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 622, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1086/428110

Fast TeV variability in blazars: jets in a jet
journal, May 2009

  • Giannios, Dimitrios; Uzdensky, Dmitri A.; Begelman, Mitchell C.
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, Vol. 395, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-3933.2009.00635.x

Dissipation in Poynting‐Flux–dominated Flows: The σ‐Problem of the Crab Pulsar Wind
journal, July 2003

  • Kirk, J. G.; Skjaraasen, O.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 591, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1086/375215

Relativistic jets shine through shocks or magnetic reconnection?
journal, April 2015

  • Sironi, Lorenzo; Petropoulou, Maria; Giannios, Dimitrios
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 450, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv641

Simultaneous Planck , Swift , and Fermi observations of X-ray and γ -ray selected blazars
journal, May 2012


The number counts, luminosity functions, and evolution
of microwave-selected (WMAP) blazars and radio galaxies
journal, October 2009


The Extent of Power-Law Energy Spectra in Collisionless Relativistic Magnetic Reconnection in pair Plasmas
journal, December 2015


Finite-Resistivity Instabilities of a Sheet Pinch
journal, January 1963

  • Furth, Harold P.; Killeen, John; Rosenbluth, Marshall N.
  • Physics of Fluids, Vol. 6, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1063/1.1706761

Plasmoid-induced-reconnection and fractal reconnection
journal, June 2001

  • Shibata, Kazunari; Tanuma, Syuniti
  • Earth, Planets and Space, Vol. 53, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1186/BF03353258

Gamma-ray flares in the Crab Nebula: A case of relativistic reconnection?
journal, May 2014

  • Cerutti, B.; Werner, G. R.; Uzdensky, D. A.
  • Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 21, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1063/1.4872024

Beaming of Particles and Synchrotron Radiation in Relativistic Magnetic Reconnection
journal, August 2016


On the relativistic magnetic reconnection
journal, March 2005


Large scale magnetic fields and their dissipation in GRB fireballs
journal, April 2001


    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Radiative signatures of plasmoid-dominated reconnection in blazar jets
    journal, October 2018

    • Christie, I. M.; Petropoulou, M.; Sironi, L.
    • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 482, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/sty2636

    Radio emission of the Crab and Crab-like pulsars
    journal, November 2018

    • Lyubarsky, Yuri
    • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 483, Issue 2
    • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/sty3233

    Interplasmoid Compton scattering and the Compton dominance of BL Lacs
    journal, December 2019

    • Christie, I. M.; Petropoulou, M.; Sironi, L.
    • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 492, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stz3265

    Relativistic Plasmoid Instability in Pair Plasmas
    journal, September 2019