Physics of Plasmas -- August 2005 -- Volume 12, pp. 082301

An electromagnetic drift instability in the magnetic reconnection experiment and its importance for magnetic reconnection

Russell Kulsrud, Hantao Ji, William Fox, and Masaaki Yamada
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, P. O. Box 451, Princeton, New Jersey 08543

(Received 15 November 2004; accepted 18 May 2005; published online 21 July 2005)

The role which resistivity plays in breaking magnetic field lines, heating the plasma, and plasma-field slippage during magnetic reconnection is discussed. Magnetic fluctuations are observed in the MRX (magnetic reconnection experiment) [M. Yamada, H. Ji, S. Hsu, T. Carter, R. Kulsrud, N. Bertz, F. Jobes, Y. Ono, and F. Perkins, Phys. Plasmas 4, 1936 (1997)] that are believed to provide resistive friction or wave resistivity. A localized linear theory has been proposed for their origin as an obliquely propagating lower hybrid drift instability. In this paper, the linear theory of the instability is summarized, and the resulting heating and slippage are calculated from quasilinear theory. Making use of measured amplitudes of the magnetic fluctuations in the MRX, the amount of these effects is estimated. Within the experimental uncertainties they are shown to be quite important for the magnetic reconnection process.

PACS: PACS: 52.35.Qz, 52.35.Vd, 52.35.Kt, 52.25.Fi, 52.25.Gj, 52.35.Hr, 52.50.Gj

Full paper: pdf file (140 K b).