Distribution of plasmoids in post-coronal mass ejection current sheets

L. J. Guo, A. Bhattacharjee, Y. M. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recently, the fragmentation of a current sheet in the high-Lundquist-number regime caused by the plasmoid instability has been proposed as a possible mechanism for fast reconnection. In this work, we investigate this scenario by comparing the distribution of plasmoids obtained from Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) observational data of a coronal mass ejection event with a resistive magnetohydrodynamic simulation of a similar event. The LASCO/C2 data are analyzed using visual inspection, whereas the numerical data are analyzed using both visual inspection and a more precise topological method. Contrasting the observational data with numerical data analyzed with both methods, we identify a major limitation of the visual inspection method, due to the difficulty in resolving smaller plasmoids. This result raises questions about reports of log-normal distributions of plasmoids and other coherent features in the recent literature. Based on nonlinear scaling relations of the plasmoid instability, we infer a lower bound on the current sheet width, assuming the underlying mechanism of current sheet broadening is resistive diffusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL14
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume771
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs)
  • magnetic reconnection
  • methods: statistical

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