Particle-in-cell simulation of collisionless reconnection with open outflow boundaries

Klimas, Alex; Hesse, Michael; Zenitani, Seiji
August 2008
Physics of Plasmas;Aug2008, Vol. 15 Issue 8, p082102
Academic Journal
A new method for applying open boundary conditions in particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations is utilized to study magnetic reconnection. Particle distributions are assumed to have zero normal derivatives at the boundaries. Advantages and possible limitations of this method for PIC simulations are discussed. Results from a reconnection simulation study are presented. For the purpose of this investigation, a 2 12-dimensional electromagnetic PIC simulation using open conditions at the outflow boundaries and simple reflecting boundaries to the inflow regions is discussed. The electron diffusion region is defined as that region where the out-of-plane electron inertial electric field is positive indicating acceleration and flux transfer; the evolution of this region is analyzed. It is found that this region varies in the range 2.5–4 local electron inertial lengths in total width and in the range 10–15 local electron inertial lengths in total length for the mass ratio 25. The reconnection rate is investigated in terms of the aspect ratio of the electron diffusion region plus inflow and outflow measures at its boundaries. It is shown that a properly measured aspect ratio predicts the flux transfer rate, scaled to account for the decline in field strength and electron density at the inflow boundary to the electron diffusion region. It is concluded that this electron diffusion region either adjusts its aspect ratio for compatibility with the flux transfer rate that is set elsewhere, as in the Hall reconnection model, or that it is this region that controls the reconnection flux transfer rate.


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