Aspects of Three-Dimensional Magnetic Reconnection - (Invited Review)

Eric Ronald Priest, CJ Schrijver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


In this review paper we discuss several aspects of magnetic reconnection theory, focusing on the field-line motions that are associated with reconnection. A new exact solution of the nonlinear MHD equations for reconnective annihilation is presented which represents a two-fold generalization of the previous solutions. Magnetic reconnection at null points by several mechanisms is summarized, including spine reconnection, fan reconnection and separator reconnection, where it is pointed out that two common features of separator reconnection are the rapid flipping of magnetic field lines and the collapse of the separator to a current sheet. In addition, a formula for the rate of reconnection between two flux tubes is derived. The magnetic field of the corona is highly complex, since the magnetic carpet consists of a multitude of sources in the photosphere. Progress in understanding this complexity may, however, be made by constructing the skeleton of the field and developing a theory for the local and global bifurcations between the different topologies. The eruption of flux from the Sun may even sometimes be due to a change of topology caused by emerging flux break-out. A CD-ROM attached to this paper presents the results of a toy model of vacuum reconnection, which suggests that rapid flipping of field lines in fan and separator reconnection is an essential ingredient also in real non-vacuum conditions. In addition, it gives an example of binary reconnection between a pair of unbalanced sources as they move around, which may contribute significantly to coronal heating. Finally, we present examples in TRACE movies of geometrical changes of the coronal magnetic field that are a likely result of large-scale magnetic reconnection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)p.1-24
Number of pages24
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999




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