Revisiting the role of magnetic moments in heliospheric plasmas
Argelander Institut für Astronomie der Universität Bonn,
Abteilung f. Astrophysik und Extraterrestrische
Forschung, Auf dem Huegel 71,
Accepted: 14 February 2013
The magnetic moment is one of the most fundamental, nontrivial particle properties known in plasma physics. Also known as the first adiabatic invariant, it is conserved under a broad range of microphysical processes and plasma boundary conditions. However, especially in modern numerical simulations, the conservation of this property, which in principle may serve as a control parameter, is no longer used explicitly. In light of this fact, as well as in a recent series of studies of the solar wind termination shock and comparable systems, where this conservation was used as a key ingredient, we now revisit this old, but standing problem. Building on our earlier arguments on when the magnetic moment of individual particles is conserved, we now carefully expand this argument further, studying nontrivial systems, such as systems where individual ions are represented by a broad distribution function that is described with the help of a transport equation. We see that the magnetic moment is conserved under an even wider variety of situations than those studied in earlier publications. When studying systems of purely kinetic equations, the magnetic moment can be converted into an additional force term in the transport equation. We also study the physics that is taken into account in shock simulations and pinpoint weaknesses in the physics used by these modern codes.
Key words: plasmas / Sun: heliosphere
© ESO, 2013