Intermittent dissipation and heating in 3D kinetic plasma turbulence

M. Wan, W. H. Matthaeus, V. Roytershteyn, H. Karimabadi, T. Parashar, P. Wu, M. Shay

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High resolution, fully kinetic, three dimensional (3D) simulation of collisionless plasma turbulence shows the development of turbulence characterized by sheetlike current density structures spanning a range of scales. The nonlinear evolution is initialized with a long wavelength isotropic spectrum of fluctuations having polarizations transverse to an imposed mean magnetic field. We present evidence that these current sheet structures are sites for heating and dissipation, and that stronger currents signify higher dissipation rates. The analyses focus on quantities such as J·E, electron, and proton temperatures, and conditional averages of these quantities based on local electric current density. Evidently, kinetic scale plasma, like magnetohydrodynamics, becomes intermittent due to current sheet formation, leading to the expectation that heating and dissipation in astrophysical and space plasmas may be highly nonuniform. Comparison with previous results from 2D kinetic simulations, as well as high frequency solar wind observational data, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number175002
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number17
Early online date30 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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