Magneto-immutable turbulence in weakly collisional plasmas
Squire, J.; Schekochihin, A. A.; Quataert, E.; Kunz, M. W.
We propose that pressure anisotropy causes weakly collisional turbulent plasmas to self-organize so as to resist changes in magnetic-field strength. We term this effect `magneto-immutability’ by analogy with incompressibility (resistance to changes in pressure). The effect is important when the pressure anisotropy becomes comparable to the magnetic pressure, suggesting that in collisionless, weakly magnetized (high-> β >) plasmas its dynamical relevance is similar to that of incompressibility. Simulations of magnetized turbulence using the weakly collisional Braginskii model show that magneto-immutable turbulence is surprisingly similar, in most statistical measures, to critically balanced magnetohydrodynamic turbulence. However, in order to minimize magnetic-field variation, the flow direction becomes more constrained than in magnetohydrodynamics, and the turbulence is more strongly dominated by magnetic energy (a non-zero `residual energy’). These effects represent key differences between pressure-anisotropic and fluid turbulence, and should be observable in the > β\gtrsim 1 > turbulent solar wind.