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Department of Mathematical Sciences

Academic Staff

Publication details for Peter Wyper

Wyper, P. & Jain, R. (2013). Reconnection at three dimensional magnetic null points: Effect of current sheet asymmetry. Physics of Plasmas 20(5): 052901.

Author(s) from Durham


Asymmetric current sheets are likely to be prevalent in both astrophysical and laboratory plasmas with complex three dimensional (3D) magnetic topologies. This work presents kinematic analytical models for spine and fan reconnection at a radially symmetric 3D null (i.e., a null where the eigenvalues associated with the fan plane are equal) with asymmetric current sheets. Asymmetric fan reconnection is characterized by an asymmetric reconnection of flux past each spine line and a bulk flow of plasma across the null point. In contrast, asymmetric spine reconnection is characterized by the reconnection of an equal quantity of flux across the fan plane in both directions. The higher modes of spine reconnection also include localized wedges of vortical flux transport in each half of the fan. In this situation, two definitions for reconnection rate become appropriate: a local reconnection rate quantifying how much flux is genuinely reconnected across the fan plane and a global rate associated with the net flux driven across each semi-plane. Through a scaling analysis, it is shown that when the ohmic dissipation in the layer is assumed to be constant, the increase in the local rate bleeds from the global rate as the sheet deformation is increased. Both models suggest that asymmetry in the current sheet dimensions will have a profound effect on the reconnection rate and manner of flux transport in reconnection involving 3D nulls.