## Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

I'll start with this link to Somov's explanation of reconnection in a vacuum. FYI, I own one of Somov's other books on the topic of plasma physics. While it does describe "reconnection", my book doesn't discuss reconnection in a "vacuum", and it's got a whole chapter devoted to tying the B and E orientations together. It's a great book This is the only place that I'm aware of that Somov discusses the topic of reconnection in a vacuum and IMO he made some errors which I'll get to in a moment.

The important (and correct) points to note in his theoretical example are:

A) The E fields that drive both of the currents in Somov's example actually does all the work in terms of providing all the magnetic and kinetic energy to the point of "reconnection" (and everywhere else), and....

B) Somov's example is *INCLUSIVE* (not exclusive) of charged particles in his vacuum and his example is INCLUSIVE (not exclusive) of charged particle acceleration as a result of "reconnection". It therefore can describe a reconnection rate that is based upon particle acceleration. What Somov explains is that *IF* the currents are displaced (move) toward one another, magnetic FLUX occurs. That FLUX has a physical effect on the charged particles in the currents in his example.

Unfortunately Somov uses some unfortunate verbiage in his example IMO, specifically the following two sentences are incorrect:

Two field lines approach the X point, merge there forming a separatrix and then they reconnect forming a field line that encloses both currents. Such a process is called reconnection of field lines or magnetic reconnection.

That's wrong for two reasons. First off, field lines CANNOT "merge/cross". If you notice his in both of his diagrams, his individual B LINES terminate at the X with an arrow at the X. B Lines don't actually do that. They should be drawn as continuous loops *EVERYWHERE* and none of them should end in arrows at the X or even cross at the X, not before, nor after the "reconnection" process. It's not the B LINES that move, the CURRENTS from one current carrying filament can and will move to the other filament through that X point. Those aren't simple B LINES that "reconnect" in a "separatrix". Those are actually CURRENTS that "reconnect" though a "double layer" that forms at the X between the two current carrying filaments. The magnetic B LINES are not "reconnecting' at the X as Somov contends, rather the CURRENTS jump from one filament to another and the filaments ELECTRICALLY begin to interact through a DOUBLE LAYER. While Somov's work is first rate, his description of the reconnection process in a vacuum is critically flawed. It's not that B LINES do any "reconnecting" at the X as he does seem to believe. Rather there are flux changes that occur there (and everywhere around the moving filaments), and particle movement that occurs at the X as a result, but the individual magnetic lines do not "disconnect from" any other magnetic lines, nor do they reconnect to any other magnetic B lines. B lines form as a full and complete FIELD, not simplistic lines. The entire fields of both currents experience FLUX CHANGES. Those FLUX changes can and will induce particle movement at the X (and other locations), but no B lines reconnect there.
Michael Mozina

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

One of my favorite images from the Basic Plasma Science Facility in UCLA.... With good resolution. This is "reconnection" which I call filament pinch, just before it happens.

http://plasma.physics.ucla.edu/pages/gallery.html

Three dimensional field lines taken from a volumetric data set in an experiment in which two laser produced plasmas collide. Data was acquired at 30,000 locations in a 3D volume in the LAPD device. Shown are the magnetic fields due to Alfven wave currents. The two Carbon targets that the lpp plasmas originate at are seen in the background. The "sparkles" are the incduced electric field calculated from -dA/dt. Note that the incuced field is largest in the reconnection region at the center of the image. The data is acquired 5 us after the targets are struck and 6.56 meters and 65.6 cm away. There is a background He plasma (n = 2X10^12 cm-3, B0z (not shown) = 600G)

See papers related to this image:
Visualizing three-dimensional reconnection in a collding laser plasma experiment
http://plasma.physics.ucla.edu/papers/G ... EE2008.pdf

Three-dimensional current systems generated by plasmas colliding in a background magnetoplasma.
http://plasma.physics.ucla.edu/papers/P ... lasmas.pdf

You can see how the resolution of the reproduction instrument has translated to factual physical features (i.e. field lines.)
http://plasma.physics.ucla.edu/pages/gallery.html
upriver

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

Thanks upriver,

FYI, here is another good paper by the same group on this topic:

http://plasma.physics.ucla.edu/papers// ... tt_QSL.pdf

Keep in mind that Alfven's strongest objection to the whole idea is that it's basically a misleading concept that turns out to be totally unnecessary as he sees it:

Alfven consistently looks as the process in terms of PARTICLE MOVEMENTS inside a current sheet/double layer. This paper picks on the whole concept in relationship to the magnetosphere and light plasmas in general.

All the actual physics EXPERIMENTS begin with current and typically E fields. In overall terms, the kinetic energy, AND the magnetic energy that reaches the point of "reconnection" all starts with an E field and/or CURRENT. Most of blatantly start with E fields, but I've seen some start with CURRENT streams generated by lasers too.
Michael Mozina

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5882&p=65106#p65060
-Upriver

Michael Mozina
Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:40 pm

Unfortunately Somov uses some unfortunate verbiage in his example IMO, specifically the following two sentences are incorrect:

Two field lines approach the X point, merge there forming a separatrix and then they reconnect forming a field line that encloses both currents. Such a process is called reconnection of field lines or magnetic reconnection
.

What a mish-mash of terminology !

That's wrong for two reasons. First off, field lines CANNOT "merge/cross". If you notice his in both of his diagrams, his individual B LINES terminate at the X with an arrow at the X. B Lines don't actually do that. They should be drawn as continuous loops *EVERYWHERE* and none of them should end in arrows at the X or even cross at the X, not before, nor after the "reconnection" process. It's not the B LINES that move, the CURRENTS from one current carrying filament can and will move to the other filament through that X point. Those aren't simple B LINES that "reconnect" in a "separatrix". Those are actually CURRENTS that "reconnect" though a "double layer" that forms at the X between the two current carrying filaments. The magnetic B LINES are not "reconnecting' at the X as Somov contends, rather the CURRENTS jump from one filament to another and the filaments ELECTRICALLY begin to interact through a DOUBLE LAYER. While Somov's work is first rate, his description of the reconnection process in a vacuum is critically flawed. It's not that B LINES do any "reconnecting" at the X as he does seem to believe. Rather there are flux changes that occur there (and everywhere around the moving filaments), and particle movement that occurs at the X as a result, but the individual magnetic lines do not "disconnect from" any other magnetic lines, nor do they reconnect to any other magnetic B lines. B lines form as a full and complete FIELD, not simplistic lines. The entire fields of both currents experience FLUX CHANGES. Those FLUX changes can and will induce particle movement at the X (and other locations), but no B lines reconnect there. “”””

They call it flux to denote movement. That motion in response to an “electric E field and/or CURRENT streams”, filaments, ions, particles, take your pick. The ebook picture says charge-in-motion generates magnetic field domains which surround the trajectory of the charge in motion,
and as two or more (charge particles, packets, plasmoids, filaments, etc.) approach each other in space, will squeeze and deform the fields of magnetic fluxation until at some close distance the associated magnetic domains reform (like the boundaries of soap bubbles reorganizing and consolidating), and become a single magnetic field surrounding the joined filaments of electricity. Would you dispute any of that ?

Questions remain:
Are any detected “lines” merely interference lines created by detection?

As fields/domains of magnetic flux form around propagating electric filaments, are they inherently layered, [in a magnetic analogy of the way sound radiates as layers of amplitude away from a dinged tubular bell] ?

Is magnetic flux layered in some way like waves of water pushed by the prow of an electric submarine ?

How does the 3D form of an E/B associated magnetic flux field alter, when the generating electric field is oscillated at high frequency ?

If plasma streams can merge, why not magnetic domains ?
seasmith

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

seasmith wrote:What a mish-mash of terminology !

They call it flux to denote movement. That motion in response to an “electric E field and/or CURRENT streams”, filaments, ions, particles, take your pick. The ebook picture says charge-in-motion generates magnetic field domains which surround the trajectory of the charge in motion, and as two or more (charge particles, packets, plasmoids, filaments, etc.) approach each other in space, will squeeze and deform the fields of magnetic fluxation until at some close distance the associated magnetic domains reform (like the boundaries of soap bubbles reorganizing and consolidating), and become a single magnetic field surrounding the joined filaments of electricity. Would you dispute any of that ?

No, I agree with you 100%.

In fairness to Somov, his textbook (not the one I cited however) CORRECTLY taught me "magnetic reconnection" theory as it's explained in PLASMA PHYSICS. He typically refers to flux changes as simply "flux changes". He even devotes an entire chapter in my textbook to tying the E and B orientations together. Somov's work is really first rate work. To my knowledge, these the two really unfortunate sentences inside two really WONDERFUL physics textbooks.

Somov is able to generate "particle acceleration" in his example, and that is in fact what he's achieving by the "flux change" that now surrounds both particle streams. It's technically an example of "reconnection" if (and only if) there is PARTICLE ACCELERATION caused by that FLUX CHANGE. The reconnection RATE is based upon behaviors of CURRENT SHEETS, and reconnection process is the process of TRANSFERRING magnetic field energy into particle kinetic energy.

In my experience, EU haters attempt to "dumb down" a PROCESS inside of PLASMA, whereby FLUX CHANGE is converted to PARTICLE ACCELERATION. In their mind, any FLUX CHANGE that results in field topology changes of any sort is mislabeled "magnetic reconnection", with or without any particle acceleration! That's just pure nonsense. They literally claim that two magnets spinning in a vacuum is an example of "magnetic reconnection" where B lines disconnect from one line and reconnect to another. They also think that B LINES begin in NULLS! I gave haters WAY too much credit in terms of even understanding BASIC EM theory. B lines cannot begin in NULLS or begin anywhere. Since monopoles do not exist, B lines cannot have sources or sinks. They are physically incapable of disconnecting from, nor reconnecting to any other B field lines. Even the concept of an individual LINE is absurd in plasma where WHOLE FIELDS interact in MOVING PLASMA.

FYI, the place where E and B come together in the 'reconnection' event is inside of a double layer/current sheet. The reconnection RATE is measured in terms of particle acceleration of plasma in vs. plasma out of the location in question. The location in question (site of reconnection) is NECESSARILY inside of plasma. In fact the reconnection rate relies upon a the Lundquist number, all of which is based on the behaviors of plasma.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lundquist_number

The bottom line is that one can't take the TRANSFER of energy, where the flux changes induce current in the plasma, and still call it "reconnection'.

If plasma streams can merge, why not magnetic domains ?

The magnetic fields will necessarily merge as the particles and filaments merge. The field LINES however have no mass. B lines have no source. They can't "disconnect" from, nor "reconnect" to any other B lines. That's just nonsense, but that is exactly what the EU haters all believe.
Michael Mozina

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

The magnetic fields will necessarily merge as the particles and filaments merge. The field LINES however have no mass. B lines have no source. They can't "disconnect" from, nor "reconnect" to any other B lines. That's just nonsense, but that is exactly what the EU haters all believe.

Michael Mozina,

Of course the question was rhetorical, and i take your response as a tentative concurrence.

Are any detected “lines” merely 'interference' lines created by detection? [the process]

btw, i greatly appreciate your efforts on the mainstream websites...
seasmith

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

I have found it essential, coming from a non-physics educational background, to get textbooks and college review books to get up to speed in plasma physics and electrodynamics. Somov's Fundamentals of Cosmic Electrodynamics is one of the best, even though, like you, I don't like his reliance on magnetic reconnection. I'm past the point of worrying about the wrong use of the word by those you term EH-haters, as I realized some time back that the serious, usually good plasma scientists understand what is going on in that respect, and that they are hobbling themselves by relying too strongly on the B-only perspective. For the same reason, I've gotten a little thick-skinned when otherwise really good papers (Kronberg's on the kiloparsec jet in active galaxy 3C303 comes to mind) mention black holes as causal factors in otherwise perfectly good articles on electric phenomena. I just say to myself, "that's wrong, or at best unsubstantiated" and move on. Life's too short and there's still too much to learn.

I have found the Russian authors to be very good, and advanced in their thinking, but dense in the sense that they assume a lot of the reader and go for the heavy math. Fortov,Iakubov and Khrapak's book, Physics of Strongly Coupled Plasma is a tough read, although reading between the equations (i.e., the physical descriptions and conclusions) is absorbing. My favorite is Peratt because his textbook, well known at least by title, here, is on plasma physics specifically as it relates to the cosmic scale of plasma phenomena, and doesn't fool with tokomak design or even engineering of electric discharge machinery, but is an astronomer's book through and through.

Paul Bellan's text, Fundamentals of Plasma Physics, is particularly useful for a good grounding in general plasma physics, although, like most texts, it tends to bring out areas of interest to those planning on going into research, eternally funded, on tokomak design and fusion power, mentioning the cosmic aspects of plasma only in passing. His website is interesting, too, and his papers - Gmirkin's website (noted earlier in this thread) mentions this man's work too And many authors still stick with MHD solutions - neat, plausible, and usually wrong in large scale plasmas.

One minor point about those magnetic field lines. Despite the importance of electron flow in generating the currents (not so much the ions) on which the strength and direction of the accompanying magnetic field(s) depend, the direction aspect is not the direction of "a charge" at some given 3-D coordinate, but, by convention, the direction in which a force would be applied to a positive charge. Odd, that. Generally one is interested in which way the electrons are going to want to be moving.

Also note that the magnetic field cannot increase or decrease a charged particle's speed (the scalar value of its vector velocity. It can change a charged particles direction, but not its speed. Only electrical fields, AKA a voltage differential, or gradient, can change a particle's speed. Without a voltage, an accelerator could not get a bunch of injected protons to speed up! Even with the giant electromagnets powered up. The E-field accelerates (or decelerates) charged particles and bodies, and the B-field steers them by applying a force at right angles to the plane of their velocity vector and the magnetic field vector at the same coordinate, thus curving the trajectory into a helix or a circle, depending on whether or not there is a drift component of the charged particle present upon entry into the magnetic field.

Jim
jjohnson

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

Hi jjohnson:

jjohnson wrote:Also note that the magnetic field cannot increase or decrease a charged particle's speed (the scalar value of its vector velocity. It can change a charged particles direction, but not its speed. Only electrical fields, AKA a voltage differential, or gradient, can change a particle's speed. Without a voltage, an accelerator could not get a bunch of injected protons to speed up! Even with the giant electromagnets powered up. The E-field accelerates (or decelerates) charged particles and bodies, and the B-field steers them by applying a force at right angles to the plane of their velocity vector and the magnetic field vector at the same coordinate...

An important notation!

The electric field causes charged partical acceleration.

Thus, every location where charged particles are empirically observed & measured to accelerate must have the presence of an electric field as the genesis of that charged particle acceleration.

When you think of all the different locations, both, here, in the solar system, and, beyond, in and among the various galaxies, where charged particles are empirically observed & measured to accelerate, one gains an appreciation for the power and ubiquitous presence of electric fields in the Universe.

And, thus, the ubiquitous presence of Double Layers.

Force equals acceleration.

Is not acceleration the driving force of the Universe?

Thus, the Electric Universe
Anaconda

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

The application of heat (an energy level) via random particle vibration will cause particle acceleration. Still, with the observation of linear particle acceleration over distance, particularly in filamentary organization, and, especially with segregated particle beams of electrons & ions, an electric field, as causation, is a reasonable conclusion.
Anaconda

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

jjohnson wrote:
Also note that the magnetic field cannot increase or decrease a charged particle's speed (the scalar value of its vector velocity. It can change a charged particles direction, but not its speed. Only electrical fields, AKA a voltage differential, or gradient, can change a particle's speed. Without a voltage, an accelerator could not get a bunch of injected protons to speed up! Even with the giant electromagnets powered up. The E-field accelerates (or decelerates) charged particles and bodies, and the B-field steers them by applying a force at right angles to the plane of their velocity vector and the magnetic field vector at the same coordinate...

...and magnetic induction engenders more voltage, which generates more magnetic field, etc.

jj,

Right, the whole magnetic reconis could not be stated more succinctly.

c
seasmith

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

The application of heat (or any other energy form) may cause particle acceleration, but heat presents as random kinetic motion, and has no bearing on electric current, just to be clear in the context of electrical current flows in plasma. Not all plasma states have current flows, I might add, in case anyone wondered about that. If you simply heat a gas up, as Peratt notes, to approximately the temperature inside stars, in kelvin or eV, it's essentially fully ionized and in the plasma state. Until it comes under the influence of electromagnetic fields, however, it doesn't do much other than radiate and exert pressure. In open space, once the energy source is removed, such a plasma will cool and expand and dissipate as surely as the air leaves a popped balloonuntil pressure is equalized.

Until the charges in a plasma encounter (or create via a double layer) an electric potential (field, voltage gradient, etc) and you get a net movement of charge past a point or through a 'fixed' volume of space, you just have a very hot gas in the plasma state. If it cools down it will recombine and go neutral. If it forms double layers, a natural tendency, it can maintain charge separation and extremely high gradients under the right conditions, which Chapman, as Michael noted, did not believe could occur in space. It can and does so regularly and at all scales. Electric currents are ubiquitous in stars, galaxies, planetary systems - wherever there is a dynamic plasma and electric fields.

Jim
jjohnson

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### Re: Magnetic Reconnection: Plasma Physics 101

jjohnson wrote:Electric currents are ubiquitous in stars, galaxies, planetary systems - wherever there is a dynamic plasma and electric fields.

Jim

The presence of powerful electrical currents, and electrical discharges in the solar atmosphere seems to be the one thing that the mainstream is unwilling to accept. While they discuss the MAGNETIC fields related to coronal loops, they do not discuss, nor acknowledge the E field and the CURRENTS that sustain the pinch and actually DO ALL THE WORK! The mainstream's understanding of plasma physics is limited to a highly limited (dumbed down) MAGNETIC orientation of MHD theory rather than embrace the whole ELECTROmagnetic orientation that also include circuit theory. Alfven himself set useful limits on the conditions of the plasma to decided WHICH orientation to use, E or B. Since he personally embraced the concept of an electric sun, and agreed with you about electric currents being ubiquitous in stars, Alfven used a "circuit" orientation when explaining coronal loop activity and flare activities. That paper by Mann and Onel takes Alfven's work one step further and shows how circuits can experience PARTIAL eruptions based upon a PARTIAL failure of the circuit.

I personally think that there are times when the B orientation and MHD theory can yield insights that would otherwise not be explained well from a strictly E/Circuit orientation of events in plasma, but IMO there are times where the E orientation is preferable and superior as well. It's worth being willing and able to look at the plasma events from both orientations at times. Unfortunately the mainstream is phobic and purely ignorant when it comes to the application of circuit theory to plasma.

What I find most objectionable about the whole 'reconnection' concept/debate is that all the kinetic energy at the point of reconnection actually BEGINS as a direct result of the presence of the E field that sustains the individual coronal loops prior to their 'reconnection'. The mainstream insists on putting the magnetic cart in front of the electric horse IMO. That's just ridiculous behavior. They ignore the circuit energy of the coronal loops ENTIRELY!
Michael Mozina

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