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Title: Magnetic reconnection in the presence of externally driven and self-generated turbulence

Magnetic reconnection is an important process that violates flux freezing and induces change of magnetic field topology in conducting fluids and, as a consequence, converts magnetic field energy into particle energy. It is thought to be operative in laboratory, heliophysical, and astrophysical plasmas. These environments exhibit wide variations in collisionality, ranging from collisionless in the Earth's magnetosphere to highly collisional in molecular clouds. A common feature among these plasmas is, however, the presence of turbulence. We review the present understanding of the effects of turbulence on the reconnection rate, discussing both how strong pre-existing turbulence modifies Sweet-Parker reconnection and how turbulence may develop as a result of reconnection itself. In steady state, reconnection rate is proportional to the aspect ratio of the diffusion region. Thus, two general MHD classes of models for fast reconnection have been proposed, differing on whether they keep the aspect ratio finite by increasing the width due to turbulent broadening or shortening the length of the diffusion layer due to plasmoid instability. One of the consequences of the plasmoid instability model is the possibility that the current sheet thins down to collisionless scales where kinetic effects become dominant. As a result, kinetic effects may be ofmore » importance for many astrophysical applications which were considered to be in the realm of MHD. Whether pre-existing turbulence can significantly modify the transition to the kinetic regime is not currently known. Although most studies of turbulent reconnection have been based on MHD, recent advances in kinetic simulations are enabling 3D studies of turbulence and reconnection in the collisionless regime. A summary of these recent works, highlighting similarities and differences with the MHD models of turbulent reconnection, as well as comparison with in situ observations in the magnetosphere and in the solar wind, are presented. The paper concludes with a list of important open questions and suggestions for future work.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0407 (United States)
  2. (United States)
  3. Department of Astronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22218402
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Physics of Plasmas; Journal Volume: 20; Journal Issue: 11; Other Information: (c) 2013 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; ASPECT RATIO; ASTROPHYSICS; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; DIFFUSION; EARTH MAGNETOSPHERE; MAGNETIC FIELDS; MAGNETIC RECONNECTION; MAGNETOHYDRODYNAMICS; PLASMA; PLASMA INSTABILITY; PLASMA SHEET; PLASMA SIMULATION; SOLAR WIND; STEADY-STATE CONDITIONS; TURBULENCE