Articles | Volume 24, issue 3
19 May 2006
 | 19 May 2006

Time development of electric fields and currents in space plasmas

A. T. Y. Lui

Abstract. Two different approaches, referred to as Bu and Ej, can be used to examine the time development of electric fields and currents in space plasmas based on the fundamental laws of physics. From the Bu approach, the required equation involves the generalized Ohm's law with some simplifying assumptions. From the Ej approach, the required equation can be derived from the equation of particle motion, coupled self-consistently with Maxwell's equation, and the definition of electric current density. Recently, some strong statements against the Ej approach have been made. In this paper, we evaluate these statements by discussing (1) some limitations of the Bu approach in solving the time development of electric fields and currents, (2) the procedure in calculating self-consistently the time development of the electric current in space plasmas without taking the curl of the magnetic field in some cases, and (3) the dependency of the time development of magnetic field on electric current. It is concluded that the Ej approach can be useful to understand some magnetospheric problems. In particular, statements about the change of electric current are valid theoretical explanations of change in magnetic field during substorms.