Time: 11am, Monday, May 2nd
Location: Rm. 413, Bld. 11#, Yuquan Campus
Title：Variational Integration for Ideal Magnetohydrodynamics and Formation of Current Singularities
Dr, Yao Zhou
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Coronal heating has been a long-standing conundrum in solar physics. Parker's conjecture that spontaneous current singularities lead to nanoflares that heat the corona has been controversial. In ideal magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), can genuine current singularities emerge from a smooth 3D line-tied magnetic field? To numerically resolve this issue, the schemes employed must preserve magnetic topology exactly to avoid artificial reconnection in the presence of singular current densities. Structure-preserving numerical methods are favorable for mitigating numerical dissipation, and variational integration is a powerful machinery for deriving them. In this thesis, we develop variational integrators for ideal MHD in Lagrangian labeling by discretizing Newcomb's Lagrangian on a moving mesh using discrete exterior calculus. With the built-in frozen-in equation, the schemes are free of artificial reconnection, hence optimal for studying current singularity formation.
Using this method, we first study a fundamental prototype problem in 2D, the Hahm-Kulsrud-Taylor (HKT) problem. It considers the effect of boundary perturbations on a 2D plasma magnetized by a sheared field, and its linear solution is singular. We find that with increasing resolution, the nonlinear solution converges to one with a current singularity. We then extend the HKT problem to 3D line-tied geometry, which models the solar corona by anchoring the field lines in the boundaries. The linear solution, which is singular in 2D, is found to be smooth. The nonlinear solution turns out smooth for short systems. Nonetheless, the scaling of peak current density vs. system length suggests that the nonlinear solution may become singular at a finite length. With the results in hand, we cannot confirm or rule out this possibility conclusively, since we cannot obtain solutions with system lengths near the extrapolated critical value.