Spontaneous reconnection at a separator current layer : I. Nature of the reconnection
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Magnetic separators, which lie on the boundary between four topologically-distinct flux domains, are prime locations in three-dimensional magnetic fields for reconnection, especially in the magnetosphere between the planetary and interplanetary magnetic field and also in the solar atmosphere. Little is known about the details of separator reconnection and so the aim of this paper, which is the first of two, is to study the properties of magnetic reconnection at a single separator. Three-dimensional, resistive magnetohydrodynamic numerical experiments are run to study separator reconnection starting from a magnetohydrostatic equilibrium which contains a twisted current layer along a single separator linking a pair of opposite-polarity null points. The resulting reconnection occurs in two phases. The first is short involving rapid-reconnection in which the current at the separator is reduced by a factor of around 2.3. Most ($75\%$) of the magnetic energy is converted during this phase, via Ohmic dissipation, directly into internal energy, with just $0.1\%$ going into kinetic energy. During this phase the reconnection occurs along most of the separator away from its ends (the nulls), but in an asymmetric manner which changes both spatially and temporally over time. The second phase is much longer and involves slow impulsive-bursty reconnection. Again Ohmic heating dominates over viscous damping. Here, the reconnection occurs in small localised bursts at random anywhere along the separator.
E. H. Stevenson , J & E. Parnell , C 2016 , ' Spontaneous reconnection at a separator current layer : I. Nature of the reconnection ' Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics , vol 120 , no. 12 , pp. 10334-10352 . DOI: 10.1002/2015JA021730
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
© 2015, Publisher / the Author(s). This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at onlinelibrary.wiley.com / https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2015JA021736
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