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Title: Instability of the current sheet in the Earth's magnetotail with normal magnetic field

Instability of a current sheet in the Earth's magnetotail has been investigated by two-dimensional fully kinetic simulations. Two types of magnetic configuration have been studied; those with uniform normal magnetic field along the current sheet and those in which the normal magnetic field has a spatial hump. The latter configuration has been proposed by Sitnov and Schindler [Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L08102 (2010)] as one in which ion tearing modes might grow. The first type of configuration exhibits electron tearing modes when the normal magnetic field is small. The second type of configuration exhibits an instability which does not tear or change the topology of magnetic field lines. The hump in the initial configuration can propagate Earthward in the nonlinear regime, leading to the formation of a dipolarization front. Secondary magnetic islands can form in regions where the normal magnetic field is very weak. Under no conditions do we find the ion tearing instability.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA and Heliophysics Science Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland 20771 (United States)
  2. Center for Heliophysics, Department of Astrophysical Sciences and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University, New Jersey 08543 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22299697
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Physics of Plasmas; Journal Volume: 21; Journal Issue: 10; Other Information: (c) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; CONFIGURATION; ELECTRONS; MAGNETIC FIELDS; MAGNETIC ISLANDS; MAGNETOTAIL; NONLINEAR PROBLEMS; SIMULATION; TEARING INSTABILITY; TOPOLOGY; TWO-DIMENSIONAL CALCULATIONS