The nature of current sheet formation in the vicinity of three-dimensional (3D) magnetic null points is investigated. The particular focus is upon the effect of the compressibility of the plasma on the qualitative and quantitative properties of the current sheet. An initially potential 3D null is subjected to shearing perturbations, as in a previous paper [Pontin, Phys. Plasmas 14, 052106 (2007)]. It is found that as the incompressible limit is approached, the collapse of the null point is suppressed and an approximately planar current sheet aligned to the fan plane is present instead. This is the case regardless of whether the spine or fan of the null is sheared. Both the peak current and peak reconnection rate are reduced. The results have a bearing on previous analytical solutions for steady-state reconnection in incompressible plasmas, implying that fan current sheet solutions are dynamically accessible, while spine current sheet solutions are not.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics