This review discusses the physics of magnetic reconnection, a process in which the magnetic field topology changes and magnetic energy is converted to kinetic energy, in pair plasmas in the relativistic regime. We focus on recent progress in the field driven by theory advances and the maturity of particle-in-cell codes. This work shows that fragmentation instabilities at the current sheet can play a critical role in setting the reconnection speed and affect the resulting particle acceleration, anisotropy, bulk flows, and radiation. Then, we discuss how this novel understanding of relativistic reconnection can be applied to high-energy astrophysical phenomena, with an emphasis on pulsars, pulsar wind nebulae, and active galactic nucleus jets.
D. Kagan, L. Sironi, B. Cerutti, et. al.
Tue, 9 Dec 14
Comments: 35 pages; 14 figures; invited topical review, submitted for publication in The Strongest Magnetic Fields in the Universe (Space Sciences Series of ISSI, Springer), Space Science Reviews