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Title: Instability of current sheets with a localized accumulation of magnetic flux

The longstanding problem of whether a current sheet with curved magnetic field lines associated with a small “normal” B{sub z} component is stable is investigated using two-dimensional electromagnetic particle-in-cell simulations, employing closed boundary conditions analogous to those normally assumed in energy principle calculations. Energy principle arguments [Sitnov and Schindler, Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L08102 (2010)] have suggested that an accumulation of magnetic flux at the tailward end of a thin current sheet could produce a tearing instability. Two classes of such current sheet configurations are probed: one with a monotonically increasing B{sub z} profile and the other with a localized B{sub z} “hump.” The former is found to be stable (in 2D) over any reasonable time scale, while the latter is prone to an ideal-like instability that shifts the hump peak in the direction of the curvature normal and erodes the field on the opposite side. The growth rate of this instability is smaller by an order of magnitude than previous suggestions of an instability in an open system. An example is given that suggests that such an unstable hump configuration is unlikely to be produced by external driving of a current sheet with no B{sub z} accumulation even inmore » the presence of open boundary conditions.« less
Authors:
 [1]
  1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095-1547 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22410427
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Physics of Plasmas; Journal Volume: 22; Journal Issue: 6; Other Information: (c) 2015 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; BOUNDARY CONDITIONS; COMPUTERIZED SIMULATION; CONFIGURATION; CURRENTS; INSTABILITY GROWTH RATES; MAGNETIC FIELDS; MAGNETIC FLUX; SHEETS; TEARING INSTABILITY; TWO-DIMENSIONAL CALCULATIONS