Document Type


Publication Date


Published In

Physics Of Plasmas


Recent counter-helicity spheromak merging experiments in the Swarthmore Spheromak Experiment (SSX) have produced a novel compact torus (CT) with unusual features. These include a persistent antisymmetric toroidal magnetic field profile and a slow, nonlinear emergence of the n = 1 tilt mode. Experimental measurements are inconclusive as to whether this unique CT is a fully merged field-reversed configuration (FRC) with strong toroidal field or a partially merged "doublet CT" configuration with both spheromak- and FRC-like characteristics. In this paper, the SSX merging process is studied in detail using three-dimensional resistive MHD simulations from the Hybrid Magnetohydrodynamics (HYM) code. These simulations show that merging plasmas in the SSX parameter regime only partially reconnect, leaving behind a doublet CT rather than an FRC. Through direct comparisons, we show that the magnetic structure in the simulations is highly consistent with the SSX experimental observations. We also find that the n = 1 tilt mode begins as a fast growing linear mode that evolves into a slower-growing nonlinear mode before being detected experimentally. A simulation parameter scan over resistivity, viscosity, and line-tying shows that these parameters can strongly affect the behavior of both the merging process and the tilt mode. In fact, merging in certain parameter regimes is found to produce a toroidal-field-free FRC rather than a doublet CT. (C) 2011 American Institute of Physics. [doi:10.1063/1.3660533]


This work is freely available courtesy of the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics and the American Institute of Physics.

Included in

Physics Commons