Role of the Plasmoid Instability in Magnetohydrodynamic Turbulence

Chuanfei Dong, Liang Wang, Yi Min Huang, Luca Comisso, Amitava Bhattacharjee

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57 Scopus citations


The plasmoid instability in evolving current sheets has been widely studied due to its effects on the disruption of current sheets, the formation of plasmoids, and the resultant fast magnetic reconnection. In this Letter, we study the role of the plasmoid instability in two-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence by means of high-resolution direct numerical simulations. At a sufficiently large magnetic Reynolds number (Rm=106), the combined effects of dynamic alignment and turbulent intermittency lead to a copious formation of plasmoids in a multitude of intense current sheets. The disruption of current sheet structures facilitates the energy cascade towards small scales, leading to the breaking and steepening of the energy spectrum. In the plasmoid-mediated regime, the energy spectrum displays a scaling that is close to the spectral index -2.2 as proposed by recent analytic theories. We also demonstrate that the scale-dependent dynamic alignment exists in 2D MHD turbulence and the corresponding slope of the alignment angle is close to 0.25.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number165101
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number16
StatePublished - Oct 17 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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