Role of electron inertia and reconnection dynamics in a stressed X-point collapse with a guide-field
School of Physics and Astronomy, Queen Mary
University of London, Mile End
Road, London, E1
Accepted: 18 June 2016
Aims. In previous simulations of collisionless 2D magnetic reconnection it was consistently found that the term in the generalised Ohm’s law that breaks the frozen-in condition is the divergence of the electron pressure tensor’s non-gyrotropic components. The motivation for this study is to investigate the effect of the variation of the guide-field on the reconnection mechanism in simulations of X-point collapse, and the related changes in reconnection dynamics.
Methods. A fully relativistic particle-in-cell (PIC) code was used to model X-point collapse with a guide-field in two and three spatial dimensions.
Results. We show that in a 2D X-point collapse with a guide-field close to the strength of the in-plane field, the increased induced shear flows along the diffusion region lead to a new reconnection regime in which electron inertial terms play a dominant role at the X-point. This transition is marked by the emergence of a magnetic island – and hence a second reconnection site – as well as electron flow vortices moving along the current sheet. The reconnection electric field at the X-point is shown to exceed all lower guide-field cases for a brief period, indicating a strong burst in reconnection. By extending the simulation to three spatial dimensions it is shown that the locations of vortices along the current sheet (visualised by their Q-value) vary in the out-of-plane direction, producing tilted vortex tubes. The vortex tubes on opposite sides of the diffusion region are tilted in opposite directions, similarly to bifurcated current sheets in oblique tearing-mode reconnection. The tilt angles of vortex tubes were compared to a theoretical estimation and were found to be a good match. Particle velocity distribution functions for different guide-field runs, for 2.5D and 3D simulations, are analysed and compared.
Key words: magnetic reconnection / magnetic fields / plasmas / Sun: flares / Sun: magnetic fields / Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs)
© ESO 2016