Detection of magnetic barriers in a chaotic domain: First application of finite time Lyapunov exponent method to a magnetic confinement configuration

G. Rubino, D. Borgogno, M. Veranda, D. Bonfiglio, S. Cappello, D. Grasso

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Magnetic field lines embedded in a plasma confinement system are often characterized by a chaotic motion. This weakens the confinement properties of any magnetic configuration. However, even in case of chaotic domains, magnetic barriers can emerge and limit the field line motion itself. In the context of the numerical simulation of a Reversed-Field Pinch configuration a new magnetic topology analysis, borrowed from previous fluid dynamic studies, is discussed. This methodology relies on the behavior of the Finite Time Lyapunov Exponent (FTLE) associated with the magnetic field. By referring to a previous work in which the magnetic field is given in terms of analytical function (Borgogno et al 2011 Phys. Plasmas 18 102307) the FTLE field shows the presence of ridges, special gradient lines normal to the direction of minimum curvature, forming magnetic barriers. These ridges can be recognized as Lagrangian Coherent Structures (LCSs) for the system, actually opposing the penetration of magnetic field lines across them. In this article a more general numerical scheme for the detection of the LCSs has been adopted that allows analysis of realistic cases in which the magnetic fields are numerically known on a discrete mesh. After a validation test performed on the analytical case, a first application to a numerical magnetohydrodynamics simulation of the RFP, characterized by a broad chaotic region, has been performed. A strong magnetic barrier has been observed that effectively limits the field lines motion inside the chaotic sea.
Original languageEnglish
Article number085004
Pages (from-to)-
JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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