Journal of Plasma Physics


The Harris sheet in a dusty plasma


a1 Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA (


In 1962 E. G. Harris published a solution to the problem of a current sheet separating regions of oppositely directed magnetic field in a fully ionized plasma. The resulting solution has become known as the ‘Harris sheet’ and has been of great utility to the plasma physics community. In this paper, the footsteps of Harris are retraced with the addition of a multiply charged massive dust component. A set of highly nonlinear differential equations for a current sheet in a dusty plasma are presented. An analytic solution, similar to that of Harris, is found for the depleted electron regime. This solution is of great relevance to many astrophysical and laboratory dusty plasmas. Current sheet thickness and asymptotic field strength are calculated for various dusty plasma environments.

(Received October 19 2009)

(Revised March 29 2010)

(Accepted March 29 2010)

(Online publication April 23 2010)