Articles | Volume 18, issue 5
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 18, 675–695, 2011

Special issue: Magnetic reconnection and turbulence in space, laboratory...

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 18, 675–695, 2011

Review article 12 Oct 2011

Review article | 12 Oct 2011

Magnetic reconnection as an element of turbulence

S. Servidio1, P. Dmitruk2, A. Greco1, M. Wan3, S. Donato1, P. A. Cassak4, M. A. Shay3, V. Carbone1, and W. H. Matthaeus3 S. Servidio et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Fisica, Università della Calabria, 87036 Cosenza, Italy
  • 2Departmento de F\'isica, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, and IFIBA, CONICET, Ciudad Universitaria, 1428, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 3Bartol Research Institute and Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • 4Department of Physics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA

Abstract. In this work, recent advances on the study of reconnection in turbulence are reviewed. Using direct numerical simulations of decaying incompressible two-dimensional magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), it was found that in fully developed turbulence complex processes of reconnection locally occur (Servidio et al., 2009, 2010a). In this complex scenario, reconnection is spontaneous but locally driven by the fields, with the boundary conditions provided by the turbulence. Matching classical turbulence analysis with a generalized Sweet-Parker theory, the statistical features of these multiple-reconnection events have been identified. A discussion on the accuracy of our algorithms is provided, highlighting the necessity of adequate spatial resolution. Applications to the study of solar wind discontinuities are reviewed, comparing simulations to spacecraft observations. New results are shown, studying the time evolution of these local reconnection events. A preliminary study on the comparison between MHD and Hall MHD is reported. Our new approach to the study of reconnection as an element of turbulence has broad applications to space plasmas, shedding a new light on the study of magnetic reconnection in nature.