Three-dimensional null point reconnection regimes

Priest, E. R.; Pontin, D. I.
December 2009
Physics of Plasmas;Dec2009, Vol. 16 Issue 12, p122101
Academic Journal
Recent advances in theory and computational experiments have shown the need to refine the previous categorization of magnetic reconnection at three-dimensional null points—points at which the magnetic field vanishes. We propose here a division into three different types, depending on the nature of the flow near the spine and fan of the null. The spine is an isolated field line which approaches the null (or recedes from it), while the fan is a surface of field lines which recede from it (or approach it). So-called torsional spine reconnection occurs when field lines in the vicinity of the fan rotate, with current becoming concentrated along the spine so that nearby field lines undergo rotational slippage. In torsional fan reconnection field lines near the spine rotate and create a current that is concentrated in the fan with a rotational flux mismatch and rotational slippage. In both of these regimes, the spine and fan are perpendicular and there is no flux transfer across spine or fan. The third regime, called spine-fan reconnection, is the most common in practice and combines elements of the previous spine and fan models. In this case, in response to a generic shearing motion, the null point collapses to form a current sheet that is focused at the null itself, in a sheet that locally spans both the spine and fan. In this regime the spine and fan are no longer perpendicular and there is flux transfer across both of them.


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