Non-linear dynamics of Kelvin-Helmholtz unstable magnetized jets: three-dimensional effects

R. Keppens

FOM-Institute for Plasma-Physics Rijnhuizen, The Netherlands

G. Tóth

Department of Atomic Physics, Eötvös Univ., Hungary

accepted by Physics of Plasma

A numerical study of the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability in compressible magnetohydrodynamics is presented. The three-dimensional simulations consider shear flow in a cylindrical jet configuration, embedded in a uniform magnetic field directed along the jet axis. The growth of linear perturbations at specified poloidal and axial mode numbers demonstrate intricate non-linear coupling effects. The physical mechanims leading to induced secondary Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities at higher mode numbers are identified. The initially weak magnetic field becomes locally dominant in the non-linear dynamics before and during saturation. Thereby, it controls the jet deformation and eventual breakup. The results are obtained using the Versatile Advection Code, a software package designed to solve general systems of conservation laws. An independent calculation of the same Kelvin-Helmholtz unstable jet configuration using a three-dimensional pseudo-spectral code gives important insights into the coupling and excitation events of the various linear mode numbers.