Consequences of spontaneous reconnection at a two-dimensional non-force-free current layer

Jorge Fuentes Fernandez, Clare Elizabeth Parnell, Alan William Hood, Eric Ronald Priest, Dana Longcope

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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Magnetic neutral points, where the magnitude of the magnetic field vanishes locally, are potential locations for energy conversion in the solar corona. The fact that the magnetic field is identically zero at these points suggests that for the study of current sheet formation and of any subsequent resistive dissipation phase, a finite beta plasma should be considered, rather than neglecting the plasma pressure as has often been the case in the past. The rapid dissipation of a finite current layer in non-force-free equilibrium is investigated numerically, after the sudden onset of an anomalous resistivity. The aim of this study is to determine how the energy is redistributed during the initial diffusion phase, and what is the nature of the outward transmission of information and energy. The resistivity rapidly diffuses the current at the null point. The presence of a plasma pressure allows the vast majority of the free energy to be transferred into internal energy. Most of the converted energy is used in direct heating of the surrounding plasma, and only about 3% is converted into kinetic energy, causing a perturbation in the magnetic field and the plasma which propagates away from the null at the local fast magnetoacoustic speed. The propagating pulses show a complex structure due to the highly non-uniform initial state. It is shown that this perturbation carries no net current as it propagates away from the null. The fact that, under the assumptions taken in this paper, most of the magnetic energy released in the reconnection converts internal energy of the plasma, may be highly important for the chromospheric and coronal heating problem.
Original languageEnglish
Article number022901
Number of pages10
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number2
Early online date8 Feb 2012
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


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