AIKEF: Adaptive hybrid model for space plasma simulations

Joachim Mueller, Sven Simon, Uwe Motschmann, Josef Schuele, Karl-Heinz Glassmeier, Gavin J. Pringle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The interaction between magnetized space plasmas and obstacles like comets, asteroids or planets is determined by a variety of physical processes that occur simultaneously on significantly different length and time scales. Frequently the dynamics of individual ions play a key role for the shape of the interaction region: strong velocity shear between light and heavy plasma constituents, non-Maxwellian particle distributions due to pick up and asymmetries in the magnetic field topology are crucial in determining this type of interaction. Covering these processes is beyond the scope of any Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) model. In order to account for these effects we have developed a new adaptive hybrid code A.I.K.E.F. (Adaptive Ion-Kinetic Electron-Fluid). The code operates on Cartesian meshes that can adapt to the physical structures in both, space and time. To the authors' knowledge, there is no other adaptive hybrid simulation code in space plasma physics to the present day. Adaptivity is implemented by means of Hybrid-Block-AMR, that is individual octs are refined rather than entire blocks, where an oct is one eighth of a block. In order to account for a reasonable number of particles in each cell, particles are refined via splitting and merging. Both procedures conserve mass, momentum and kinetic energy. The code is implemented in C++ and efficiently parallelized for distributed systems by means of the Message Passing Interface (MPI). In order to demonstrate the validity of our newly developed code we have applied it to a series of fundamental test scenarios. On the one hand we demonstrate that the dispersion relation as well as the propagation characteristics of MHD and whistler mode waves are quantitatively reproduced by our simulation code. Wave propagation remains unaffected when traveling through regions that include different refinement levels. On the other hand we verify that the results obtained on high resolution uniform meshes are identical to the results from adaptive simulations that use coarse base meshes but include various levels of refinement. A remarkable speedup could be observed: the adaptive simulations required 71 times less CPU-hours than the uniform mesh simulations. Finally, we present a first series of global, three-dimensional simulations for the interaction of Mercury with the solar wind and a real time study of Titan's plasma interaction during a magnetosheath excursion. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-966
Number of pages21
JournalComputer Physics Communications
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


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