The role of guide field in magnetic reconnection driven by island coalescence

A. Stanier, W. Daughton, Andrei N. Simakov, L. Chacón, A. Le, H. Karimabadi, Jonathan Ng, A. Bhattacharjee

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19 Scopus citations


A number of studies have considered how the rate of magnetic reconnection scales in large and weakly collisional systems by the modelling of long reconnecting current sheets. However, this set-up neglects both the formation of the current sheet and the coupling between the diffusion region and a larger system that supplies the magnetic flux. Recent studies of magnetic island merging, which naturally include these features, have found that ion kinetic physics is crucial to describe the reconnection rate and global evolution of such systems. In this paper, the effect of a guide field on reconnection during island merging is considered. In contrast to the earlier current sheet studies, we identify a limited range of guide fields for which the reconnection rate, outflow velocity, and pile-up magnetic field increase in magnitude as the guide field increases. The Hall-MHD fluid model is found to reproduce kinetic reconnection rates only for a sufficiently strong guide field, for which ion inertia breaks the frozen-in condition and the outflow becomes Alfvénic in the kinetic system. The merging of large islands occurs on a longer timescale in the zero guide field limit, which may in part be due to a mirror-like instability that occurs upstream of the reconnection region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number022124
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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