Experimental study of two-fluid effects on magnetic reconnection in a laboratory plasma with variable collisionality

Masaaki Yamada, Yang Ren, Hantao Ji, Joshua Breslau, Stefan Gerhardt, Russell Kulsrud, Aleksey Kuritsyn

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This article describes the recent findings on two-fluid effects on magnetic reconnection in plasmas with variable collisionality in the magnetic reconnection experiment (MRX) [M. Yamada, Phys. Plasmas 4, 1936 (1997)]. The MRX device has been upgraded to accommodate a variety of reconnection operation modes and high energy density experiments by increasing its capacitor bank energy and extending the discharge duration. As our experimental operation regime has moved from the collisional to the collision-free, two-fluid effects have become more evident. It is observed that the two-dimensional profile of the neutral sheet is changed significantly from the rectangular shape of the familiar Sweet-Parker type to a double wedge shape as the collisionality is reduced and the reconnection rate increases. The recent evolution of our experimental research from the magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) to the two-fluid analysis is presented to illuminate the physics of Hall MHD in a collision-free reconnection layer. In particular, a clear experimental verification of an out-of-plane quadrupole field, a characteristic signature of the Hall MHD, has been made in the MRX neutral sheet, where the sheet width is comparable to the ion skin depth. It is important to note that the Hall effect, which occurs due to two-dimensional laminar flows of electrons in the reconnection plane, is observed together with the presence of low and high frequency magnetic turbulence, which often has three-dimensional structures. These observations in MRX have striking similarities to the recent magnetospheric measurements of reconnection region, in which the quadrupole component has been detected together with magnetic fluctuations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number052119
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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