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Magnetic reconnection in plasmas


A review of the present status of the theory of magnetic reconnection is given. In strongly collisional plasmas reconnection proceeds via resistive current sheets, i.e. quasi-stationary macroscopic Sweet-Parker sheets at intermediate values of the magnetic Reynolds numberR m , or mirco-current sheets in MHD turbulence, which develops at highR m . In hot, dilute plasmas the reconnection dynamics is dominated by nondissipative effects, mainly the Hall term and electron inertia. Reconnection rates are found to depend only on the ion mass, being independent of the electron inertia and the residual dissipation coefficients. Small-scale whistler turbulence is readily excited giving rise to an anomalous electron viscosity. Hence reconnection may be much more rapid than predicted by conventional resistive theory.

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Biskamp, D. Magnetic reconnection in plasmas. Astrophys Space Sci 242, 165–207 (1996).

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Key words

  • Magnetic Fields
  • Reconnection
  • MHD Turbulence
  • Cosmic Plasmas