## Abstract

We have carried out high-resolution MHD simulations of the nonlinear evolution of Kelvin-Helmholtz unstable flows in 2 1/2 dimensions. The modeled flows and fields were initially uniform except for a thin shear layer with a hyperbolic tangent velocity profile and a small, normal mode perturbation. These simulations extend work by Frank et al. and Malagoli, Bodo, & Rosner. They consider periodic sections of flows containing magnetic fields parallel to the shear layer, but projecting over a full range of angles with respect to the flow vectors. They are intended as preparation for fully three-dimensional calculations and to address two specific questions raised in earlier work: (1) What role, if any, does the orientation of the field play in nonlinear evolution of the MHD Kelvin-Helmholtz instability in 2 1/2 dimensions? (2) Given that the field is too weak to stabilize against a linear perturbation of the flow, how does the nonlinear evolution of the instability depend on strength of the field? The magnetic field component in the third direction contributes only through minor pressure contributions, so the flows are essentially two-dimensional. In Frank et al. we found that fields too weak to stabilize a linear perturbation may still be able to alter fundamentally the flow so that it evolves from the classical "Cat's Eye" vortex expected in gasdynamics into a marginally stable, broad laminar shear layer. In that process the magnetic field plays the role of a catalyst, briefly storing energy and then returning it to the plasma during reconnection events that lead to dynamical alignment between magnetic field and flow vectors. In our new work we identify another transformation in the flow evolution for fields below a critical strength. That we found to be ∼ 10% of the critical field needed for linear stabilization in the cases we studied. In this " very weak field " regime, the role of the magnetic field is to enhance the rate of energy dissipation within and around the Cat's Eye vortex, not to disrupt it. The presence of even a very weak field can add substantially to the rate at which flow kinetic energy is dissipated. In all of the cases we studied magnetic field amplification by stretching in the vortex is limited by tearing mode, "fast" reconnection events that isolate and then destroy magnetic flux islands within the vortex and relax the fields outside the vortex. If the magnetic tension developed prior to reconnection is comparable to Reynolds stresses in the flow, that flow is reorganized during reconnection. Otherwise, the primary influence on the plasma is generation of entropy. The effective expulsion of flux from the vortex is very similar to that shown by Weiss for passive fields in idealized vortices with large magnetic Reynolds numbers. We demonstrated that this expulsion cannot be interpreted as a direct consequence of steady, resistive diffusion, but must be seen as a consequence of unsteady fast reconnection.

Original language | English (US) |
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Pages (from-to) | 230-244 |

Number of pages | 15 |

Journal | Astrophysical Journal |

Volume | 482 |

Issue number | 1 PART I |

DOIs | |

State | Published - 1997 |

## Keywords

- Instabilities
- MHD
- Plasmas
- Turbulence