Current sheet formation and nonideal behavior at three-dimensional magnetic null points

Pontin, D. I.; Bhattacharjee, A.; Galsgaard, K.
May 2007
Physics of Plasmas;May2007, Vol. 14 Issue 5, p052106
Academic Journal
The nature of the evolution of the magnetic field, and of current sheet formation, at three-dimensional (3D) magnetic null points is investigated. A kinematic example is presented that demonstrates that for certain evolutions of a 3D null (specifically those for which the ratios of the null point eigenvalues are time-dependent), there is no possible choice of boundary conditions that renders the evolution of the field at the null ideal. Resistive magnetohydrodynamics simulations are described that demonstrate that such evolutions are generic. A 3D null is subjected to boundary driving by shearing motions, and it is shown that a current sheet localized at the null is formed. The qualitative and quantitative properties of the current sheet are discussed. Accompanying the sheet development is the growth of a localized parallel electric field, one of the signatures of magnetic reconnection. Finally, the relevance of the results to a recent theory of turbulent reconnection is discussed.


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