Magnetic reconnection

What is it?

Magnetic reconnection is a very important phenomenon taking place in magnetized plasmas, from laboratories to astrophysical systems like the Sun, solar wind, planetary magnetospheres, and more distant objects like compact objects magnetospheres, accretions disks etc. Its importance comes first from it’s ability to change the magnetic connectivity of interacting magnetized systems like for example the Sun-Earth system through Magnetopause reconnection. This sudden and fast change of field line connectiviy is often responsible for macroscopic transport of plasma and controls the global dynamics of many objects among which is our Magnetosphere. The second pivotal interest for magnetic reconnection comes from its ability to transfer the magnetic energy stored in current sheets during the ideal interaction of different magnetic sources into kinetic energy of the plasma particles. Magnetic energy being ubiquitous in the universe, reconnection is thus considered as a very attractive process regarding jet formation, plasma heating, particle acceleration.

Why this page?

All right, this said, my goal here is not to write a course on reconnection, which has already been done many many times by number of people who have probaby spent quite some time on it… So, rather than reinventing that wheel, I’d prefer explain what motivates me in reconnection physics and what I understand about it based on my research.

The specific stuff on reconnection that interests me

  • Asymmetric reconnection
  • Energy budget of reconnection
  • Understand what the kinetic dynamics becomes from the fluid viewpoint
  • How reconnection starts