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Theory of magnetic reconnection in solar and astrophysical plasmas

By D. I. Pontin

Abstract

Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process in a plasma that facilitates the release of energy stored in the magnetic field by permitting a change in the magnetic topology. In this article we present a review of the current state of understanding of magnetic reconnection. We discuss theoretical results regarding the formation of current sheets in complex 3D magnetic fields, and describe the fundamental differences between reconnection in two and three dimensions. We go on to outline recent developments in modelling of reconnection with kinetic theory, as well as in the MHD framework where a number of new 3D reconnection regimes have been identified. We discuss evidence from observations and simulations of solar system plasmas that support this theory, and summarise some prominent locations in which this new reconnection theory is relevant in astrophysical plasmas

Topics: Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics, Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics, Physics - Plasma Physics
Publisher: 'The Royal Society'
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.1098/rsta.2011.0501
OAI identifier: oai:arXiv.org:1202.4013

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