Numerical experiments on plasmoids entering a transverse magnetic field

Gunell, H.; Walker, J. J.; Koepke, M. E.; Hurtig, T.; Brenning, N.; Nilsson, H.
November 2009
Physics of Plasmas;Nov2009, Vol. 16 Issue 11, p112901
Academic Journal
Plasma from the Earth’s magnetosheath has previously been observed inside the magnetosphere. Inhomogeneities in the magnetosheath plasma, here called plasmoids, can impact the magnetopause and doing so set up a polarizing field that allows it to penetrate the magnetopause and enter the magnetosphere. A set of simulations of plasmoids with different dimensions is presented in this paper. For plasmoids that are longer than those previously published, waves propagating upstream from the barrier are found. It is also found that the penetration process causes the part of the plasmoid that is upstream of the barrier to rotate. The role of plasmoid width and cross sectional shape in penetration is studied, and for plasmoids that are less than half an ion gyroradius wide, the plasmoid is compressed to obtain a vertically oriented elliptical cross section, regardless of the initial shape. When the initial plasmoid width exceeds the ion gyroradius, the plasmoid still penetrates through a mechanism involving a potential that propagates upstream from the magnetic barrier.


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