Reconnection-driven energy cascade in magnetohydrodynamic turbulence

Chuanfei Dong, Liang Wang, Yi Min Huang, Luca Comisso, Timothy A. Sandstrom, Amitava Bhattacharjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Magnetohydrodynamic turbulence regulates the transfer of energy from large to small scales in many astrophysical systems, including the solar atmosphere. We perform three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations with unprecedentedly large magnetic Reynolds number to reveal how rapid reconnection of magnetic field lines changes the classical paradigm of the turbulent energy cascade. By breaking elongated current sheets into chains of small magnetic flux ropes (or plasmoids), magnetic reconnection leads to a previously undiscovered range of energy cascade, where the rate of energy transfer is controlled by the growth rate of the plasmoids. As a consequence, the turbulent energy spectra steepen and attain a spectral index of −2.2 that is accompanied by changes in the anisotropy of turbulence eddies. The omnipresence of plasmoids and their consequences on, for example, solar coronal heating, can be further explored with current and future spacecraft and telescopes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabn7627
JournalScience Advances
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 7 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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