Kinetic dissipation and anisotropic heating in a turbulent collisionless plasma

Parashar, T. N.; Shay, M. A.; Cassak, P. A.; Matthaeus, W. H.
March 2009
Physics of Plasmas;Mar2009, Vol. 16 Issue 3, p032310
Academic Journal
The kinetic evolution of the Orszag–Tang vortex is studied using collisionless hybrid simulations. In magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) this configuration leads rapidly to broadband turbulence. At large length scales, the evolution of the hybrid simulations is very similar to MHD, with magnetic power spectra displaying scaling similar to a Kolmogorov scaling of -5/3. At small scales, differences from MHD arise, as energy dissipates into heat almost exclusively through the magnetic field. The magnetic energy spectrum of the hybrid simulation shows a break where linear theory predicts that the Hall term in Ohm’s law becomes significant, leading to dispersive kinetic Alfvén waves. A key result is that protons are heated preferentially in the plane perpendicular to the mean magnetic field, creating a proton temperature anisotropy of the type observed in the corona and solar wind.


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