Plasmoid statistics in relativistic magnetic reconnection


Petropoulou M, Christie IM, Sironi L, Giannios D. Plasmoid statistics in relativistic magnetic reconnection. [Internet]. 2018;475:3797 - 3812.


Plasmoids, overdense blobs of plasma containing magnetic fields and high-energy particles, are a self-consistent outcome of the reconnection process in the relativistic regime. Recent two-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations have shown that plasmoids can undergo a variety of processes (e.g. mergers, bulk acceleration, growth, and advection) within the reconnection layer. We developed a Monte Carlo code, benchmarked with the recent PIC simulations, to examine the effects of these processes on the steady-state size and momentum distributions of the plasmoid chain. The differential plasmoid size distribution is shown to be a power law, ranging from a few plasma skin depths to ∼0.1 of the reconnection layer's length. The power-law slope is shown to be linearly dependent upon the ratio of the plasmoid acceleration and growth rates, which slightly decreases with increasing plasma magnetization. We perform a detailed comparison of our results with those of recent PIC simulations and briefly discuss the astrophysical implications of our findings through the representative case of flaring events from blazar jets.