Articles | Volume 18, issue 6
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 18, 871–882, 2011

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

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 18, 871–882, 2011

Research article 28 Nov 2011

Research article | 28 Nov 2011

Three-dimensional magnetic reconnection through a moving magnetic null

V. S. Lukin and M. G. Linton V. S. Lukin and M. G. Linton
  • Space Science Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375, USA

Abstract. A computational study of three-dimensional magnetic reconnection between two flux ropes through a moving reconnection site is presented. The configuration is considered in the context of two interacting spheromaks constrained by a perfectly conducting cylindrical boundary and oriented to form a single magnetic field null at its center. The initial magnetic field configuration is embedded into a uniform thermal plasma and is unstable to tilting. As the spheromaks tilt, their magnetic fields begin to reconnect at the null, subsequently displacing both the null and the reconnection site. The motion of the reconnection region and the magnetic null are shown to be correlated, with stronger correlation and faster reconnection observed in plasmas with lower thermal to magnetic pressure ratio. It is also shown that ion inertial effects allow for yet faster reconnection, but do not qualitatively change the dynamics of the process. Implications of the coupling between moving magnetic nulls and reconnection sites, as well as of possible mechanisms for fast reconnection through a moving reconnection region, are discussed. The simulations are conducted using both single-fluid and Hall MHD plasma models within the HiFi multi-fluid modeling framework.