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Title: Three dimensional instabilities of an electron scale current sheet in collisionless magnetic reconnection

In collisionless magnetic reconnection, electron current sheets (ECS) with thickness of the order of an electron inertial length form embedded inside ion current sheets with thickness of the order of an ion inertial length. These ECS's are susceptible to a variety of instabilities which have the potential to affect the reconnection rate and/or the structure of reconnection. We carry out a three dimensional linear eigen mode stability analysis of electron shear flow driven instabilities of an electron scale current sheet using an electron-magnetohydrodynamic plasma model. The linear growth rate of the fastest unstable mode was found to drop with the thickness of the ECS. We show how the nature of the instability depends on the thickness of the ECS. As long as the half-thickness of the ECS is close to the electron inertial length, the fastest instability is that of a translational symmetric two-dimensional (no variations along flow direction) tearing mode. For an ECS half thickness sufficiently larger or smaller than the electron inertial length, the fastest mode is not a tearing mode any more and may have finite variations along the flow direction. Therefore, the generation of plasmoids in a nonlinear evolution of ECS is likely only when themore » half-thickness is close to an electron inertial length.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Max Planck/Princeton Center for Plasma Physics, Göttingen (Germany)
  2. (Germany)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22299965
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Physics of Plasmas; Journal Volume: 21; Journal Issue: 6; 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; CURRENTS; ELECTRONS; HALF-THICKNESS; MAGNETIC RECONNECTION; NONLINEAR PROBLEMS; PLASMA; PLASMOIDS; STABILITY; TEARING INSTABILITY; THICKNESS