TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 53 (No. 6), pp. 483-490, 2001

Three-dimensional reconnection on the Sun

Eric R. Priest

Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9SS, U.K.

(Received May 1, 2000; Revised November 1, 2000; Accepted November 1, 2000)

Abstract: A brief review is given of the theory of magnetic reconnection in three dimensions. The key elements of a three-dimensional null point are its spine and its fan, which consist, respectively, of a field line and a surface of field lines that pass through the null. The fans of two nulls intersect in general in a field line called a separator that joins the nulls. Several different types of reconnection have been proposed, namely: spine reconnection, fan reconnection, separator reconnection and quasi-separatrix layer reconnection. In addition, a new exact solution for reconnective annihilation has been recently discovered. A summary is also given of the impressive evidence of reconnection at work on the Sun provided by a range of observations from the Yohkoh and SOHO satellites, both of solar flares and of coronal heating events.


Corresponding author E-mail: eric@mcs.st-and.ac.uk


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