Magnetic reconnection in an anisotropic plasma: Observation and theory

C. C. Hung, L. N. Hau, M. Hoshino

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Space plasma usually exhibits temperature or pressure anisotropy with two distinct components, p|| and p, denoting the pressure parallel and perpendicular to the magnetic field, respectively. This paper presents the first result of two-dimensional (∂/∂y = 0) magnetic reconnection with single X-line in anisotropic plasma based on gyrotropic magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations. The field-line reconnection is initiated by imposing a localized resistivity on the Harris-type current sheet with a guide magnetic field By. It is shown that the observational feature of a slow shock (SS) followed by a contact discontinuity (CD) near the central sheet, across which the magnetic field is decreased and the pressure anisotropy is changed from p|| > p to p|| ≈ p, as identified by Hoshino et al. (2000) in the Geotail data, may be reproduced in our simulations. For the initial equilibrium with relatively large pressure anisotropy of p|| ≥ p, the steady reconnection layer may consist of SS followed by rotational discontinuity (RD) with both upstream and downstream states of SS being super-Alfvénic which is similar to the anomalous SS-RD compound structure found in the solar wind and magnetosphere. While for the cases of p > p||, the reconnection layer may consist of RD followed by SS and the reconnection rate is larger as compared to the cases of p|| ≥ p.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL18106
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - 28 Sep 2011


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