The formation and stability of Petschek reconnection

H. Baty, T.G. Forbes, E.R. Priest

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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A combined analytical and numerical study of magnetic reconnection in two-dimensional resistive magnetohydrodynamics is carried out by using different explicit spatial variations of the resistivity. A special emphasis on the existence of stable/unstable Petschek's solutions is taken, comparing with the recent analytical model given by Forbes et al. [Phys. Plasmas 20, 052902 (2013)]. Our results show good quantitative agreement between the analytical theory and the numerical solutions for a Petschek-type solution to within an accuracy of about 10% or better. Our simulations also show that if the resistivity profile is relatively flat near the X-point, one of two possible asymmetric solutions will occur. Which solution occurs depends on small random perturbations of the initial conditions. The existence of two possible asymmetric solutions, in a system which is otherwise symmetric, constitutes an example of spontaneous symmetry breaking.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number11
Early online date19 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


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