Self-organizing knotted magnetic structures in plasma

C. B. Smiet, S. Candelaresi, A. Thompson, J. Swearngin, J. W. Dalhuisen, D. Bouwmeester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


We perform full-magnetohydrodynamics simulations on various initially helical configurations and show that they reconfigure into a state where the magnetic field lines span nested toroidal surfaces. This relaxed configuration is not a Taylor state, as is often assumed for relaxing plasma, but a state where the Lorentz force is balanced by the hydrostatic pressure, which is lowest on the central ring of the nested tori. Furthermore, the structure is characterized by a spatially slowly varying rotational transform, which leads to the formation of a few magnetic islands at rational surfaces. We then obtain analytic expressions that approximate the global structure of the quasistable linked and knotted plasma configurations that emerge, using maps from S3 to S2 of which the Hopf fibration is a special case. The knotted plasma configurations have a highly localized magnetic energy density and retain their structure on time scales much longer than the Alfvénic time scale.

Original languageEnglish
Article number095001
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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