Articles | Volume 17, issue 5
Special issue:
31 May 1999
31 May 1999

New aspects of plasma sheet dynamics - MHD and kinetic theory

H. Wiechen

Abstract. Magnetic reconnection is a process of fundamental importance for the dynamics of the Earth's plasma sheet. In this context, the development of thin current sheets in the near-Earth plasma sheet is a topic of special interest because they could be a possible cause of microscopic fluctuations acting as collective non-idealness from a macroscopic point of view. Simulations of the near-Earth plasma sheet including boundary perturbations due to localized inflow through the northern (or southern) plasma sheet boundary show developing thin current sheets in the near-Earth plasma sheet about 810 RE tailwards of the Earth. This location is largely independent from the localization of the perturbation. The second part of the paper deals with the problem of the macroscopic non-ideal consequences of microscopic fluctuations. A new model is presented that allows the quantitative calculation of macroscopic non-idealness without considering details of microscopic instabilities or turbulence. This model is only based on the assumption of a strongly fluctuating, mixing dynamics on microscopic scales in phase space. The result of this approach is an expression for anomalous non-idealness formally similar to the Krook resistivity but now describing the macroscopic consequences of collective microscopic fluctuations, not of collisions.

Key words. Magnetospheric physics (plasma sheet) · Space plasma physics (kinetic and MHD theory; magnetic reconnection)

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