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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 29, issue 6
Ann. Geophys., 29, 1121-1127, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-29-1121-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 29, 1121-1127, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-29-1121-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  25 Jun 2011

25 Jun 2011

Flux quanta, magnetic field lines, merging – some sub-microscale relations of interest in space plasma physics

R. A. Treumann2,1,*, R. Nakamura3, and W. Baumjohann3 R. A. Treumann et al.
  • 1Department of Geophysics and Environmental Sciences, Munich University, Munich, Germany
  • 2Department of Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth College, Hanover NH 03755, USA
  • 3Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz, Austria
  • *visiting: International Space Science Institute, Bern, Switzerland

Abstract. We clarify the notion of magnetic field lines in plasma by referring to sub-microscale (quantum mechanical) particle dynamics. It is demonstrated that magnetic field lines in a field of strength B carry single magnetic flux quanta Φ0=h/e. The radius of a field line in the given magnetic field B is calculated. It is shown that such field lines can merge and annihilate only over the length ℓ of their strictly anti-parallel sections, for which case we estimate the power generated. The length ℓ becomes a function of the inclination angle θ of the two merging magnetic flux tubes (field lines). Merging is possible only in the interval 12πθ≤π. This provides a sub-microscopic basis for "component reconnection" in classical macro-scale reconnection. We also find that the magnetic diffusion coefficient in plasma appears in quanta D0m=eΦ0/me=h/me. This lets us conclude that the bulk perpendicular plasma resistivity is limited and cannot be less than η0⊥0eΦ0/me0h/me~10−9 Ohm m. This resistance is an invariant.

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