The Kelvin–Helmholtz (KH) instability occurring in a single shear flow configuration that is embedded in a uniform flow-aligned magnetic field, is revisited by means of high resolution two-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations. First, the calculations extend previous studies of magnetized shear flows to a higher compressibility regime. The nonlinear evolution of an isolated KH billow emerging from the fastest growing linear mode for a convective sonic Mach number Mcs=0.7 layer is in many respects similar to its less compressible counterpart (Mach Mcs=0.5). In particular, the disruptive regime where locally amplified, initially weak magnetic fields, control the nonlinear saturation process is found for Alfvén Mach numbers 4≲MA≲30. The most notable difference between Mcs=0.7 vs Mcs=0.5 layers is that higher density contrasts and fast magnetosonic shocklet structures are observed. Second, the use of adaptive mesh refinement allows to parametrically explore much larger computational domains, including up to 22 wavelengths of the linearly dominant mode. A strong process of large-scale coalescence is found, whatever the magnetic field regime. It proceeds through continuous pairing/merging events between adjacent vortices up to the point where the final large-scale vortical structure reaches the domain dimensions. This pairing/merging process is attributed to the growth of subharmonic modes and is mainly controlled by relative phase differences between them. These grid-adaptive simulations demonstrate that even in very weak magnetic field regimes (MA≃30), the large-scale KH coalescence process can trigger tearing-type reconnection events previously identified in cospatial current–vortex sheets.

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