Two-fluid numerical simulations of turbulence inside Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices: Intermittency and reconnecting current sheets

Abstract : The turbulence developing inside Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices has been studied using a two-fluid numerical simulation. From an initial large-scale velocity shear, the nonlinear evolution of the instability leads to the formation of a region inside the initial vortex characterized by small-scale fluctuations and structures. The magnetic energy spectrum is compatible with a Kolmogorov-like power-law decay, followed by a steeper power-law below proton scales, in agreement with other studies. The magnetic field increments show non-Gaussian distributions with increasing tails going towards smaller scales, consistent with presence of intermittency. The strong magnetic fieldfluctuations populating the tails of the distributions have been identified as current sheets by using the Partial Variance of the Increments (PVI) method. The strongest current sheets (largest PVI) appear around proton scales and below. By selecting several of such current sheets, it has been found that most of them are consistent with ongoing magnetic reconnection. The detailed study of one reconnecting current sheet as crossed by a virtual spacecraft is also presented. Inflow and outflow regions have been identified and the reconnection rate has been estimated. The observation of reconnection rates higher than typical fast rate suggests that reconnection in turbulentplasma can be faster than laminar reconnection. This study indicates that intermittency and reconnecting current sheets are important ingredients of turbulence within Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices and that reconnection can play an important role for energy dissipation therein. ∼0.1
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Submitted on : Friday, August 5, 2016 - 4:48:30 PM
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Claudia Rossi, F. Califano, A. Retinò, L. Sorriso-Valvo, Pierre Henri, et al.. Two-fluid numerical simulations of turbulence inside Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices: Intermittency and reconnecting current sheets. Physics of Plasmas, American Institute of Physics, 2015, 22 (12), pp.122303. ⟨10.1063/1.4936795⟩. ⟨insu-01352156⟩

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