Coalescence of 2 current loops with a kink instability simulated by 3-dimensional electromagnetic particle code

K.-I. Nishikawa, J.-I. Sakai, J. Zhao, Torsten Neubert, O. Buneman

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We have studied the dynamics of a coalescence of current loops using a three-dimensional electromagnetic (EM) particle simulation code. Our focus is the investigation of such kinetic processes as energy transfer, heating of particles, and electromagnetic emissions associated with a current loop coalescence which cannot be studied by MHD simulations. First, the two loops undergo a pinching oscillation due to a pressure imbalance between the inside and outside of the current loop. During the pinching oscillation, a kinetic kink instability is excited and electrons in the loops are heated perpendicularly to an ambient magnetic field. Next, the two current loops collide and coalesce, while at the same time a helical structure grows further. Subsequently, the perturbed current, which is due to these helically bunched electrons, can drive a whistler instability. It should be noted in this case that the whistler wave is excited by the kinetic kink instability and not a beam instability. After the coalescence of two helical loops, tilting motions can be observed in the direction of left-hand rotation, and the helical structure will relax resulting in strong plasma heating mostly in the direction perpendicular to the ambient magnetic field.

It is also shown that high-frequency electromagnetic waves can be emitted from the region where the two loops coalesce and propagate strongly in the direction of the electron drift velocity. These processes may be important in understanding heating mechanisms for coronal loops as well as radio wave emission mechanisms from active regions of solar corona plasmas.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)363-369
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 1994
Externally publishedYes


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