Articles | Volume 19, issue 1
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 19, 145–153, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-19-145-2012

Special issue: Magnetic reconnection and turbulence in space, laboratory...

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 19, 145–153, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-19-145-2012

Research article 27 Feb 2012

Research article | 27 Feb 2012

Collisionless magnetic reconnection in a plasmoid chain

S. Markidis1,2, P. Henri1, G. Lapenta1, A. Divin1, M. V. Goldman3, D. Newman3, and S. Eriksson4 S. Markidis et al.
  • 1Centrum voor Plasma-Astrofysica, Departement Wiskunde, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
  • 2PDC Center for High Performance Computing, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Department of Physics and CIPS, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA
  • 4Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA

Abstract. The kinetic features of plasmoid chain formation and evolution are investigated by two dimensional Particle-in-Cell simulations. Magnetic reconnection is initiated in multiple X points by the tearing instability. Plasmoids form and grow in size by continuously coalescing. Each chain plasmoid exhibits a strong out-of plane core magnetic field and an out-of-plane electron current that drives the coalescing process. The disappearance of the X points in the coalescence process are due to anti-reconnection, a magnetic reconnection where the plasma inflow and outflow are reversed with respect to the original reconnection flow pattern. Anti-reconnection is characterized by the Hall magnetic field quadrupole signature. Two new kinetic features, not reported by previous studies of plasmoid chain evolution, are here revealed. First, intense electric fields develop in-plane normally to the separatrices and drive the ion dynamics in the plasmoids. Second, several bipolar electric field structures are localized in proximity of the plasmoid chain. The analysis of the electron distribution function and phase space reveals the presence of counter-streaming electron beams, unstable to the two stream instability, and phase space electron holes along the reconnection separatrices.