A 2½ -Dimensional Magnetic Field Model of Plasmoids

  1. C. T. Russell,
  2. E. R. Priest and
  3. L. C. Lee
  1. Mark B. Moldwin and
  2. W. J. Hughes

Published Online: 21 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM058p0663

Physics of Magnetic Flux Ropes

Physics of Magnetic Flux Ropes

How to Cite

Moldwin, M. B. and Hughes, W. J. (1990) A 2½ -Dimensional Magnetic Field Model of Plasmoids, in Physics of Magnetic Flux Ropes (eds C. T. Russell, E. R. Priest and L. C. Lee), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM058p0663

Author Information

  1. Center for Space Physics, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1990

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900261

Online ISBN: 9781118663868



  • Solar photosphere;
  • Magnetic flux;
  • Astrophysics


The traditional two-dimensional picture of plasmoid formation predicts the creation of closed loops, field lines closed on themselves, which are called magnetic islands. Examination of plasmoid formation in three dimensions led Hughes and Sibeck [1987] to the conclusion that a Hux rope is formed instead of a magnetic island. We use a $$2{1 \over 2}$$-dimensional flux rope model to study the magnetic topology of plasmoids and examine the ability to distinguish between the two models using magnetometer data from a simple satellite pass. Spacecraft data is simulated by sampling the magnetic field along a path through our model. We show that the principal axis directions are strongly dependent on the path of a satellite through the structure. We demonstrate that ISEE 3 magnetic field observations of plasmoids can be reproduced using a model of a flux rope with a significant axial component. It appears that principal axis analysis of magnetometer data of a single satellite pass is insufficient to differentiate between magnetic island and flux rope models, and can give misleading indications of the real axes of symmetry of the structure.