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Title: Understanding the dynamics and energetics of magnetic reconnection in a laboratory plasma: Review of recent progress on selected fronts

Abstract

Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process at work in laboratory, space and astrophysical plasmas, in which magnetic field lines change their topology and convert magnetic energy to plasma particles by acceleration and heating. One of the most important problems in reconnection research has been to understand why reconnection occurs so much faster than predicted by MHD theory. Following the recent pedagogical review of this subject [M. Yamada, R. Kulsrud, and H. Ji, Rev. Mod. Phys. {\bf 82}, 603 (2010)], this paper presents a review of more recent discoveries and findings in the research of fast magnetic reconnection in laboratory, space, and astrophysical plasmas. In spite of the huge difference in physical scales, we find remarkable commonality between the characteristics of the magnetic reconnection in laboratory and space plasmas. In this paper, we will focus especially on the energy flow, a key feature of the reconnection process. In particular the experimental results on the energy conversion and partitioning in a laboratory reconnection layer [M. Yamada {\it et al.}, Nat. Commu. {\bf 5}, 4474 (2014)] are discussed and compared with quantitative estimates based on two-fluid analysis. In the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX), we find that energy deposition to electrons is localized near the X-point and is mostly from the electric field component perpendicular to the magnetic field. The mechanisms of ion acceleration and heating are also identified and a systematic and quantitative study on the inventory of converted energy within a reconnection layer with a well-defined but variable boundary. The measured energy partition in a reconnection region of similar effective size ($$L \approx$$ 3 ion skin depths) of the Earth's magneto-tail [J. Eastwood {\it et al.}, Phys. Rev. Lett. {\bf 110}, 225001 (2013)] is notably consistent with our laboratory results. Finally, to study the global aspects of magnetic reconnection, we have carried out a laboratory experiment on the stability criteria for solar flare eruptions, including {\textquotedblleft}storage and release{\textquotedblright} mechanisms of magnetic energy. We show that toroidal magnetic flux generated by magnetic relaxation (reconnection) processes generates a new stabilizing force which prevents plasma eruption. This result has lead us to discovery of a new stabilizing force for solar flares [C. E. Myers {\it et al.}, Nature {\bf 528}, 526 (2015)]

Authors:
ORCiD logo ; ORCiD logo ;
  1. Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. (PPPL), Princeton, NJ (United States)
Publication Date:
DOE Contract Number:  
AC02-09CH11466
Product Type:
Dataset
Research Org.:
Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. (PPPL), Princeton, NJ (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Fusion Energy Sciences (FES)
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; Magnetic Reconnection Energy Conversion Solar Eruption
Keywords:
Magnetic Reconnection Energy Conversion Solar Eruption
OSTI Identifier:
1366742
DOI:
10.11578/1366742

Citation Formats

Yamada, M., Yoo, J., and Myers, C.E. Understanding the dynamics and energetics of magnetic reconnection in a laboratory plasma: Review of recent progress on selected fronts. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.11578/1366742.
Yamada, M., Yoo, J., & Myers, C.E. Understanding the dynamics and energetics of magnetic reconnection in a laboratory plasma: Review of recent progress on selected fronts. United States. doi:10.11578/1366742.
Yamada, M., Yoo, J., and Myers, C.E. 2016. "Understanding the dynamics and energetics of magnetic reconnection in a laboratory plasma: Review of recent progress on selected fronts". United States. doi:10.11578/1366742. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1366742. Pub date:Sun May 01 00:00:00 EDT 2016
@article{osti_1366742,
title = {Understanding the dynamics and energetics of magnetic reconnection in a laboratory plasma: Review of recent progress on selected fronts},
author = {Yamada, M. and Yoo, J. and Myers, C.E.},
abstractNote = {Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process at work in laboratory, space and astrophysical plasmas, in which magnetic field lines change their topology and convert magnetic energy to plasma particles by acceleration and heating. One of the most important problems in reconnection research has been to understand why reconnection occurs so much faster than predicted by MHD theory. Following the recent pedagogical review of this subject [M. Yamada, R. Kulsrud, and H. Ji, Rev. Mod. Phys. {\bf 82}, 603 (2010)], this paper presents a review of more recent discoveries and findings in the research of fast magnetic reconnection in laboratory, space, and astrophysical plasmas. In spite of the huge difference in physical scales, we find remarkable commonality between the characteristics of the magnetic reconnection in laboratory and space plasmas. In this paper, we will focus especially on the energy flow, a key feature of the reconnection process. In particular the experimental results on the energy conversion and partitioning in a laboratory reconnection layer [M. Yamada {\it et al.}, Nat. Commu. {\bf 5}, 4474 (2014)] are discussed and compared with quantitative estimates based on two-fluid analysis. In the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX), we find that energy deposition to electrons is localized near the X-point and is mostly from the electric field component perpendicular to the magnetic field. The mechanisms of ion acceleration and heating are also identified and a systematic and quantitative study on the inventory of converted energy within a reconnection layer with a well-defined but variable boundary. The measured energy partition in a reconnection region of similar effective size ($L \approx$ 3 ion skin depths) of the Earth's magneto-tail [J. Eastwood {\it et al.}, Phys. Rev. Lett. {\bf 110}, 225001 (2013)] is notably consistent with our laboratory results. Finally, to study the global aspects of magnetic reconnection, we have carried out a laboratory experiment on the stability criteria for solar flare eruptions, including {\textquotedblleft}storage and release{\textquotedblright} mechanisms of magnetic energy. We show that toroidal magnetic flux generated by magnetic relaxation (reconnection) processes generates a new stabilizing force which prevents plasma eruption. This result has lead us to discovery of a new stabilizing force for solar flares [C. E. Myers {\it et al.}, Nature {\bf 528}, 526 (2015)]},
doi = {10.11578/1366742},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {5}
}

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Works referenced in this record:

Understanding the dynamics and energetics of magnetic reconnection in a laboratory plasma: Review of recent progress on selected fronts
journal, May 2016

  • Yamada, Masaaki; Yoo, Jongsoo; Myers, Clayton E.
  • Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 23, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1063/1.4948721

    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Understanding the dynamics and energetics of magnetic reconnection in a laboratory plasma: Review of recent progress on selected fronts
    journal, May 2016

    • Yamada, Masaaki; Yoo, Jongsoo; Myers, Clayton E.
    • Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 23, Issue 5
    • DOI: 10.1063/1.4948721