The nature of separator current layers in MHS equilibria I. Current parallel to the separator
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Separators, which are in many ways the three-dimensional equivalent to two-dimensional nulls, are important sites for magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection occurs in strong current layers which have very short length scales. The aim of this work is to explore the nature of current layers around separators. A separator is a special field line which lies along the intersection of two separatrix surfaces and forms the boundary between four topologically distinct flux domains. In particular, here the current layer about a separator that joins two 3D nulls and lies along the intersection of their separatrix surfaces is investigated. A magnetic configuration containing a single separator embedded in a uniform plasma with a uniform electric current parallel to the separator is considered. This initial magnetic setup, which is not in equilibrium, relaxes in a non-resistive manner to form an equilibrium. The relaxation is achieved using the 3D MHD code, Lare3d, with resistivity set to zero. A series of experiments with varying initial current are run to investigate the characteristics of the resulting current layers present in the final (quasi-) equilibrium states. In each experiment, the separator collapses and a current layer forms along it. The dimensions and strength of the current layer increase with initial current. It is found that separator current layers formed from current parallel to the separator are twisted. Also the collapse of the separator is a process that evolves like an infinite-time singularity where the length, width and peak current in the layer grow slowly whilst the depth of the current layer decreases.
Stevenson , J E H , Parnell , C E , Priest , E R & Haynes , A L 2015 , ' The nature of separator current layers in MHS equilibria I. Current parallel to the separator ' Astronomy & Astrophysics , vol 573 , A44 . DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201424348
Astronomy & Astrophysics
© 2014. ESO. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Astronomy and Astrophysics on 15 December 2014, available online at: http://www.aanda.org/index.php?option=com_article&access=doi&doi=10.1051/0004-6361/201424348.
JEHS would like to thank STFC for financial support during her Ph.D and CEP acknowledges support from the STFC consolidated grant.
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