We report for the first time the intrinsically three-dimensional (3D) geometry of the magnetic reconnection process induced by ballooning instability in a generalized Harris sheet. The spatial distribution and the structure of the quasi-separatrix layers, as well as their temporal emergence and evolution, indicate that the associated magnetic reconnection can only occur in a 3D geometry, which is irreducible to that of any two-dimensional reconnection process. Such a finding provides a new perspective to the long-standing controversy over the substorm onset problem and elucidates the combined roles of reconnection and ballooning instabilities. It also connects to the universal presence of 3D reconnection processes previously discovered in various natural and laboratory plasmas.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics