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Magnetic reconnection

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Magnetic reconnection (henceforth called "reconnection") refers to the breaking and reconnecting of oppositely directed magnetic field lines in a plasma. In the process, magnetic field energy is converted to plasma kinetic and thermal energy.

PPPL physicist discovers that some plasma instabilities can extinguish themselves

Physicist Fatima Ebrahimi at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has for the first time used advanced models to accurately simulate key characteristics of the cyclic behavior of edge-localized modes (ELMs), a particular type of plasma instability. The findings could help physicists more fully comprehend the behavior of plasma, the hot, charged gas that fuels fusion reactions in doughnut-shaped fusion facilities called tokamaks, and more reliably produce plasmas for fusion reactions.

Scientists create first laboratory generation of high-energy shock waves that accelerate astrophysical particles

Throughout the universe, supersonic shock waves propel cosmic rays and supernova particles to velocities near the speed of light. The most high-energy of these astrophysical shocks occur too far outside the solar system to be studied in detail and have long puzzled astrophysicists. Shocks closer to Earth can be detected by spacecraft, but they fly by too quickly to probe a wave’s formation.

Opening the door to new understanding

PPPL and Max Planck physicists reveal experimental verification of a key source of fast reconnection of magnetic fields

Magnetic reconnection, a universal process that triggers solar flares and northern lights and can disrupt cell phone service and fusion experiments, occurs much faster than theory says that it should. Now researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics have discovered a source of the speed-up in a common form of reconnection. Their findings could lead to more accurate predictions of damaging space weather and improved fusion experiments.

PPPL and Max Planck physicists reveal experimental verification of a key source of fast reconnection of magnetic fields

Magnetic reconnection, a universal process that triggers solar flares and northern lights and can disrupt cell phone service and fusion experiments, occurs much faster than theory says that it should. Now researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics have discovered a source of the speed-up in a common form of reconnection. Their findings could lead to more accurate predictions of damaging space weather and improved fusion experiments.

PPPL physicist uncovers clues to mechanism behind magnetic reconnection

Physicist Fatima Ebrahimi at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has published a paper showing that magnetic reconnection — the process in which magnetic field lines snap together and release energy — can be triggered by motion in nearby magnetic fields. By running computer simulations, Ebrahimi gathered evidence indicating that the wiggling of atomic particles and magnetic fields within electrically charged gas known as plasma can spark the onset of reconnection, a process that, when it occurs on the sun, can spew plasma into space.

PPPL physicist uncovers clues to mechanism behind magnetic reconnection

Physicist Fatima Ebrahimi at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has published a paper showing that magnetic reconnection — the process in which magnetic field lines snap together and release energy — can be triggered by motion in nearby magnetic fields. By running computer simulations, Ebrahimi gathered evidence indicating that the wiggling of atomic particles and magnetic fields within electrically charged gas known as plasma can spark the onset of reconnection, a process that, when it occurs on the sun, can spew plasma into space. 

PPPL physicists make first-ever direct observation of collisional plasmoid instability during magnetic reconnection in a laboratory setting

Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have for the first time directly observed a phenomenon that had previously only been hypothesized to exist. The phenomenon, plasmoid instabilities that occur during collisional magnetic reconnection, had until this year only been observed indirectly using remote-sensing technology.

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