Nonlinear magnetic reconnection models with separatrix jets

E. R. Priest*, L. C. Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


A new theory for fast steady-state magnetic reconnection is proposed that includes many features of recent numerical experiments. The inflow region differs from that in the classical model of Petschek (1964) and the unified linear solutions of Priest & Forbes (1986) in possessing highly curved magnetic field lines rather than ones that are almost straight. A separatrix jet of plasma is ejected from the central diffusion region along the magnetic separatrix. Two types of outflow are studied, the simplest possessing an outflow magnetic field that is potential. The other contains weak standing shock waves attached to the ends of the diffusion region and either slowing down the flow (fast-mode shock) after it crosses the separatrix jet or speeding it up (slow-mode), depending on the downstream boundary conditions. A spike of reversed current slows down the plasma that emerges rapidly from the diffusion region into the more slowly moving downstream region, and diverts most of it along the separatrix jets. In the simplest case the outflow possesses no vorticity over most of the downstream region. The models demonstrate that both upstream and downstream boundary conditions are important in determining which regime of reconnection is produced from a wide variety of possibilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-360
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Plasma Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1990


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