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Magnetic Reconnection: Scientists Uncover New Findings On Explosive Nature Of Magnetic Reconnection

First Posted: Nov 11, 2015 11:11 AM EST

A team of researchers found new evidence relating to the explosive nature of magnetic reconnection, changing how scientists look at look at this astrophysical process.

Magnetic reconnection takes place when magnetic lines of force break apart and reconnect with a violent burst of energy. During this process, magnetic field energy converts to plasma kinetic and thermal energy. Northern lights and solar flares are typical examples of magnetic reconnection.  

"This fundamental discovery has attracted a great deal of interest from theorists as well as experimentalists in laboratory and space plasma physics," Amitava Bhattacharjee, head of the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, said in a news release.

The researchers' new finding examines the speed at which magnetic reconnection operates, which is area that has not been covered in the Sweet-Parker model, which explains the theories behind magnetic reconnection.

The PPPL researchers focused on plasmoids instabilities, a coherent structure of plasma and magnetic fields. The plasmoid instability takes place in the plasma, where there are connecting lines of force which cause a fast reconnection. The researchers' model showed that the fast reconnection rate is resistant to electrical current of the system.

Bhattcharjee is planning to present this study in at the 57th annual meeting of the American Physical Society-Department of Plasma Physics in Savannah, Georgia.

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