Kinetic model of electric potentials in localized collisionless plasma structures under steady quasi-gyrotropic conditions

Schindler, K.; Birn, J.; Hesse, M.
August 2012
Physics of Plasmas;Aug2012, Vol. 19 Issue 8, p082904
Academic Journal
Localized plasma structures, such as thin current sheets, generally are associated with localized magnetic and electric fields. In space plasmas localized electric fields not only play an important role for particle dynamics and acceleration but may also have significant consequences on larger scales, e.g., through magnetic reconnection. Also, it has been suggested that localized electric fields generated in the magnetosphere are directly connected with quasi-steady auroral arcs. In this context, we present a two-dimensional model based on Vlasov theory that provides the electric potential for a large class of given magnetic field profiles. The model uses an expansion for small deviation from gyrotropy and besides quasineutrality it assumes that electrons and ions have the same number of particles with their generalized gyrocenter on any given magnetic field line. Specializing to one dimension, a detailed discussion concentrates on the electric potential shapes (such as 'U' or 'S' shapes) associated with magnetic dips, bumps, and steps. Then, it is investigated how the model responds to quasi-steady evolution of the plasma. Finally, the model proves useful in the interpretation of the electric potentials taken from two existing particle simulations.


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