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Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Nov 9;109(19):195001. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Intermittent dissipation at kinetic scales in collisionless plasma turbulence.

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  • 1Bartol Research Institute and Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716, USA.


High resolution kinetic simulations of collisionless plasma driven by shear show the development of turbulence characterized by dynamic coherent sheetlike current density structures spanning a range of scales down to electron scales. We present evidence that these structures are sites for heating and dissipation, and that stronger current structures signify higher dissipation rates. Evidently, kinetic scale plasma, like magnetohydrodynamics, becomes intermittent due to current sheet formation, leading to the expectation that heating and dissipation in astrophysical and space plasmas may be highly nonuniform and patchy.

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