Global axisymmetric simulations of two-fluid reconnection in an experimentally relevant geometry

Murphy, N. A.; Sovinec, C. R.
April 2008
Physics of Plasmas;Apr2008, Vol. 15 Issue 4, p042313
Academic Journal
To address the interplay between local and global effects in magnetic reconnection, axisymmetric numerical simulations for the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment [M. Yamada et al., Phys. Plasmas 4, 1936 (1997)] are performed using the NIMROD code [C. R. Sovinec et al., J. Comput. Phys. 195, 355 (2004)]. The “pull” and “push” modes of the device are simulated both with and without two-fluid effects in the generalized Ohm’s law. As in experiment, the pull reconnection rate is slowed due to the presence of downstream pressure associated with the outflow. Effects induced by toroidicity include a radially inward drift of the current sheet during pull reconnection and a radially outward displacement of the X-point during push reconnection. These effects result from the inboard side of the current sheet having less volume than the outboard side, facilitating the formation of large scale pressure gradients since the inboard side is more susceptible to a buildup or depletion of density. Toroidicity also leads to asymmetry of the quadrupole field during two-fluid simulations. During pull reconnection, the outboard lobes of the quadrupole typically peak close to the X-point, whereas the inboard quadrupole lobes peak near the flux core surfaces. At experimentally relevant parameters, the reconnection rate is found to depend more on the mode of operation than on the inclusion of two-fluid effects. The current sheet in two-fluid co-helicity simulations tilts due to a Lorentz force associated with the guide field and the outflowing electrons, resulting in asymmetric flow patterns for both ions and electrons. In two-fluid counter-helicity simulations, the Hall effect leads to a radial shift in position of the X-point and an asymmetric outflow pattern, which is examined in terms of separate force-density contributions. In general, asymmetry due to toroidicity or the Hall effect often leads to uneven outflow, which then feeds back on the reconnection process through large scale pressure gradients.


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