23.04. 2012

Reconnection in Space Plasmas

The storage and release of magnetic energy is fundamental for many activity processes in solar system and astrophysical plasmas. When magnetic energy is released the magnetic field lines often reconfigure in a process which scientists call magnetic reconnection.
Magnetic reconnection can, however, only occur efficiently under appropriate conditions, for example in configurations which carry substantial electric currents over small length scales - so-called current sheets. In order to fully understand how reconnection allows the release of magnetic energy, the details of how the electrons and ions move in the plasma is required. Thus particle kinetics in the collisionless plasma are fundamental. In the SHOCK project we will investigate the magnetic reconnection process using computer simulations which start from some recently discovered new current sheet models using kinetic theory. The below showed image is from an initial kinetic simulation study.

Credit: Mike Harris
  • 7
  • ERA
  • ESA
  • Queen Mary
  • CNRS
  • ASU
  • Sprinx systems
  • University of St. Andrews