Two strikingly different shapes of diffusion regions are identified during magnetic reconnection in a magnetohydrodynamic laboratory plasma. The shapes depend on the third vector component of the reconnecting magnetic fields. Without the third component (antiparallel or null-helicity reconnection), a thin double-Y "shaped diffusion region is identified. In this case, the neutral sheet current profile is accurately measured to be as narrow as the order of the ion gyro-radius. In the presence of an appreciable third component (cohelicity reconnection), an O-shaped diffusion region appears and grows into a spheromak configuration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)