Turbulent General Magnetic Reconnection [SSA]


Plasma flows with an MHD-like turbulent inertial range, such as the solar wind, require a generalization of General Magnetic Reconnection (GMR) theory. We introduce the slip-velocity source vector, which gives the rate of development of slip velocity per unit arc length of field line. The slip source vector is the ratio of the curl of the non ideal electric field in the Generalized Ohm’s Law and the magnetic field strength. It diverges at magnetic nulls, unifying GMR with magnetic null-point reconnection. Only under restrictive assumptions is the slip velocity related to the gradient of the quasi potential (integral of parallel electric field along field lines). In a turbulent inertial range the curl becomes extremely large while the parallel component is tiny, so that line slippage occurs even while ideal MHD becomes accurate. The resolution of this paradox is that ideal MHD is valid for a turbulent inertial-range only in a weak sense which does not imply magnetic line freezing. The notion of weak solution is explained in terms of spatial coarse-graining and renormalization group (RG) theory. We give an argument for the weak validity of the ideal Ohm’s law in the inertial range, via rigorous estimates of the terms in the Generalized Ohm’s Law for an electron-ion plasma. All of the nonideal terms (from collisional resistivity, Hall field, electron pressure anisotropy, and electron inertia) are shown to be irrelevant in the RG sense and large-scale reconnection is thus governed solely by ideal dynamics. We briefly discuss some implications for heliospheric reconnection, in particular for deviations from the Parker spiral model of interplanetary magnetic field. Solar wind observations show that reconnection in a turbulence broadened heliospheric current sheet, consistent with the Lazarian-Vishniac theory, leads to slip velocities that cause field lines to lag relative to the spiral model.

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G. Eyink
Tue, 9 Dec 14

Comments: 35 pages, 9 figures