Physics of Plasmas -- May 2001 -- Volume 8, Issue 5, pp. 1916-1928

Experimental study of ion heating and acceleration during magnetic reconnection

S. C. Hsu, T. A. Carter, G. Fiksel, H. Ji, R. M. Kulsrud, and M. Yamada
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, P. O. Box 451, Princeton, New Jersey 08543

(Received 23 October 2000; accepted 24 January 2001)

Ion heating and acceleration has been studied in the well-characterized reconnection layer of the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment [M. Yamada et al., Phys. Plasmas 4, 1936 (1997)]. Ion temperature in the layer rises substantially during null-helicity reconnection in which reconnecting field lines are anti-parallel. The plasma outflow is sub-Alfvénic due to a downstream back pressure. An ion energy balance calculation based on the data and including classical viscous heating indicates that ions are heated largely via nonclassical mechanisms. The Ti rise is much smaller during co-helicity reconnection in which field lines reconnect obliquely. This is consistent with a slower reconnection rate and a smaller resistivity enhancement over the Spitzer value. These observations show that nonclassical dissipation mechanisms can play an important role both in heating the ions and in facilitating the reconnection process. ©2001 American Institute of Physics.

PACS: 52.20.-j, 52.30.Cv, 96.60.Rd

Full paper: pdf file (211 K b).