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Magnetic Null Points In Kinetic Simulations of Space Plasmas
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Computational Science and Technology (CST).
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2016 (English)In: Astrophysical Journal, ISSN 0004-637X, E-ISSN 1538-4357, Vol. 819, no 1, 52Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

We present a systematic attempt to study magnetic null points and the associated magnetic energy conversion in kinetic particle-in-cell simulations of various plasma configurations. We address three-dimensional simulations performed with the semi-implicit kinetic electromagnetic code iPic3D in different setups: variations of a Harris current sheet, dipolar and quadrupolar magnetospheres interacting with the solar wind,. and a relaxing turbulent configuration with multiple null points. Spiral nulls are more likely created in space plasmas: in all our simulations except lunar magnetic anomaly (LMA) and quadrupolar mini-magnetosphere the number of spiral nulls prevails over the number of radial nulls by a factor of 3-9. We show that often magnetic nulls do not indicate the regions of intensive energy dissipation. Energy dissipation events caused by topological bifurcations at radial nulls are rather rare and short-lived. The so-called X-lines formed by the radial nulls in the Harris current sheet and LMA simulations are rather stable and do not exhibit any energy dissipation. Energy dissipation is more powerful in the vicinity of spiral nulls enclosed by magnetic flux ropes with strong currents at their axes (their cross. sections resemble 2D magnetic islands). These null lines reminiscent of Z-pinches efficiently dissipate magnetic energy due to secondary instabilities such as the two-stream or kinking instability, accompanied by changes in magnetic topology. Current enhancements accompanied by spiral nulls may signal magnetic energy conversion sites in the observational data.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institute of Physics Publishing (IOPP), 2016. Vol. 819, no 1, 52
Keyword [en]
magnetic reconnection, planets and satellites: magnetic fields, plasmas
National Category
Physical Sciences Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-185370DOI: 10.3847/0004-637X/819/1/52ISI: 000372303400052ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84960983995OAI: diva2:921242

QC 20160420

Available from: 2016-04-20 Created: 2016-04-18 Last updated: 2016-04-20Bibliographically approved

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