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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 28, issue 8
Ann. Geophys., 28, 1523-1532, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-28-1523-2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 28, 1523-1532, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-28-1523-2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  13 Aug 2010

13 Aug 2010

Thin current sheets caused by plasma flow gradients in space and astrophysical plasma

D. H. Nickeler1,2 and T. Wiegelmann2 D. H. Nickeler and T. Wiegelmann
  • 1Astronomical Institute AV ČR Ondřejov, Fričova 298, 25165 Ondrejov, Czech Republic
  • 2Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Max-Planck-Strasse 2, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany

Abstract. Strong gradients in plasma flows play a major role in space and astrophysical plasmas. A typical situation is that a static plasma equilibrium is surrounded by a plasma flow, which can lead to strong plasma flow gradients at the separatrices between field lines with different magnetic topologies, e.g., planetary magnetospheres, helmet streamers in the solar corona, or at the boundary between the heliosphere and interstellar medium. Within this work we make a first step to understand the influence of these flows towards the occurrence of current sheets in a stationary state situation. We concentrate here on incompressible plasma flows and 2-D equilibria, which allow us to find analytic solutions of the stationary magnetohydrodynamics equations (SMHD). First we solve the magnetohydrostatic (MHS) equations with the help of a Grad-Shafranov equation and then we transform these static equilibria into a stationary state with plasma flow. We are in particular interested to study SMHD-equilibria with strong plasma flow gradients perpendicular to separatrices. We find that induced thin current sheets occur naturally in such situations. The strength of the induced currents depend on the Alfvén Mach number and its gradient, and on the magnetic field.

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