Earth Planets Space, Vol. 53 (No. 6), pp. 509-519, 2001
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, P.O. Box 451, Princeton, NJ 08543, U.S.A.
(Received June 26, 2000; Revised January 25, 2001; Accepted February 28, 2001)
Abstract: The present paper reviews the recent laboratory experiments on magnetic reconnection focussing on the local features of the reconnection region. It is very important to recognize that magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) often breaks down locally in the thin reconnection layer, while globally, the reconnecting plasma has large Lundquist number and is well approximated by MHD equations. Precise measurements of the neutral sheet profile can provide important clues to help understand the non-MHD physics mechanisms of reconnection. Thanks to significant progress in data acquisition technology, the detailed magnetic field structure of the neutral sheet has been measured in laboratory plasmas. Extensive data have been accumulated in highly conductive MHD plasmas with large Lundquist numbers S = 10-1000. In this review we primarily focus on the physics data of the neutral sheet from the most recent laboratory experiments.