Energy dissipation in magnetohydrodynamic turbulence: coherent structures or 'nanoflares'?
We investigate the intermittency of energy dissipation in magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence by identifying dissipative structures and measuring their characteristic scales. We find that the probability distribution of energy dissipation rates exhibits a power-law tail with an index very close to the critical value of –2.0, which indicates that structures of all intensities contribute equally to energy dissipation. We find that energy dissipation is uniformly spread among coherent structures with lengths and widths in the inertial range. At the same time, these structures have thicknesses deep within the dissipative regime. As the Reynolds number is increased, structures become thinner and more numerous, while the energy dissipation continues to occur mainly in large-scale coherent structures. This implies that in the limit of high Reynolds number, energy dissipation occurs in thin, tightly packed current sheets which nevertheless span a continuum of scales up to the system size, exhibiting features of both coherent structures and nanoflares previously conjectured as a coronal heating mechanism.
- Department of Physics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1150 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706 (United States)
- Space Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824 (United States)
- Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT (United Kingdom)
- Publication Date:
- OSTI Identifier:
- Resource Type:
- Journal Article
- Resource Relation:
- Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 795; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
- Country of Publication:
- United States
- 79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; DISTRIBUTION; ENERGY LOSSES; MAGNETIC RECONNECTION; MAGNETOHYDRODYNAMICS; PLASMA; REYNOLDS NUMBER; SUN; THICKNESS; TURBULENCE