Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 12:29 EDT

Simulated Vision of Solar Wind Turbulence

December 20, 2012

Two-dimensional numerical simulations of freely decaying turbulence reveal the formation of thin current sheets (black regions) between large scale vortical swirls of the magnetofluid. The interaction drives a breakup into smaller scale structures.

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These simulations have been used to interpret observations from Cluster spacecraft which have shown that thin current sheets form at the edges of turbulent flows. The current sheets have thicknesses of some 20 km.

The XY plane in this figure is perpendicular to the interplanetary magnetic field and to the direction of flow of the solar wind.

The colour gradient represents the strength of the magnetic field component that is out of the plane of the simulation at the end of the simulation. Values range from 4.8 nT (darkest shades) to 5.2 nT (white).

credit: Animation courtesy of J. Donelli / ESA