Plasmoids in reconnecting current sheets: Solar and terrestrial contexts compared
Magnetic reconnection plays a crucial role in violent energy conversion occurring in the environments of high electrical conductivity, such as the solar atmosphere, magnetosphere, and fusion devices. We focus on the morphological features of the process in two different environments, the solar atmosphere and the geomagnetic tail. In addition to indirect evidence that indicates reconnection in progress or having just taken place, such as auroral manifestations in the magnetosphere and the flare loop system in the solar atmosphere, more direct evidence of reconnection in the solar and terrestrial environments is being collected. Such evidence includes the reconnection inflow near the reconnecting current sheet and the outflow along the sheet characterized by a sequence of plasmoids. Both turbulent and unsteady Petschek-type reconnection processes could account for the observations. We also discuss other relevant observational consequences of both mechanisms in these two settings. While on face value, these are two completely different physical environments, there emerge many commonalities, for example, an Alfvén speed of the same order of magnitude, a key parameter determining the reconnection rate. This comparative study is meant as a contribution to current efforts aimed at isolating similarities in processes occurring in very different contexts in the heliosphere and even in the universe.
JGR: Space Physics
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Lin, J.; Cranmer, S. R.; Farrugia, C. J. (2008). Plasmoids in reconnecting current sheets: Solar and terrestrial contexts compared, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SPACE PHYSICS. Vol. 113, No. A11. DOI: 10.1029/2008JA013409