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School of Physics and Astronomy

Equilibrium and Stability of Collisionless Current Sheets

27 September 2013

Time: 4:30pm
Venue: Queens EB2

Astronomy Unit Seminars
Prof. Thomas Neukirch (U. St Andrews)
David Burgess

Many activity processes in space and astrophysical plasmas are closely connected to the existence or formation of current sheets - localized concentrations of the electric current density, which allow fundamental processes such as magnetic reconnection to take place.

To lowest order current sheets can be described as approximately one-dimensional structures and in many cases the spatial variation occurs on kinetic scales. In space plasma collisions can also often be neglected and thus the Vlasov-Maxwell equations have to be used to describe such current sheets.

In this talk I will give an overview of some  recent developments in the theory of collisionless current sheets, in particular the search for distribution functions for collisionless force-free current sheet equilibria. I will also show some preliminary results of first studies of their stability properties.