Reconnection in a Weakly Stochastic Field Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We examine the effect of weak, small scale magnetic field structure on the rate of reconnection in a strongly magnetized plasma. This affects the rate of reconnection by reducing the transverse scale for reconnection flows, and by allowing many independent flux reconnection events to occur simultaneously. Allowing only for the first effect and using Goldreich and Sridhar's model of strong turbulence in a magnetized plasma with negligible intermittency, we find that the lower limit for the reconnection speed is the Alfven speed times the Lundquist number to the power (-3/16). The upper limit on the reconnection speed is typically a large fraction of Alfven speed. We argue that generic reconnection in turbulent plasmas will normally occur at close to this upper limit. The fraction of magnetic energy that goes directly into electron heating scales as Lundquist number to the power (-2/5) and the thickness of the current sheet scales as the Lundquist number to the power (-3/5). A significant fraction of the magnetic energy goes into high frequency Alfven waves. We claim that the qualitative sense of these conclusions, that reconnection is fast even though current sheets are narrow, is almost independent of the local physics of reconnection and the nature of the turbulent cascade. As the consequence of this the Galactic and Solar dynamos are generically fast, i.e. do not depend on the plasma resistivity.

publication date

  • June 1999