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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 30, issue 10
Ann. Geophys., 30, 1515-1528, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-30-1515-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 30, 1515-1528, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-30-1515-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Regular paper 09 Oct 2012

Regular paper | 09 Oct 2012

Collisionless reconnection: magnetic field line interaction

R. A. Treumann1,2, W. Baumjohann3, and W. D. Gonzalez4 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
  • 4Divisão de Geofísica Espacial, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil

Abstract. Magnetic field lines are quantum objects carrying one quantum Φ0 = 2πh/e of magnetic flux and have finite radius λm. Here we argue that they possess a very specific dynamical interaction. Parallel field lines reject each other. When confined to a certain area they form two-dimensional lattices of hexagonal structure. We estimate the filling factor of such an area. Anti-parallel field lines, on the other hand, attract each other. We identify the physical mechanism as being due to the action of the gauge potential field, which we determine quantum mechanically for two parallel and two anti-parallel field lines. The distortion of the quantum electrodynamic vacuum causes a cloud of virtual pairs. We calculate the virtual pair production rate from quantum electrodynamics and estimate the virtual pair cloud density, pair current and Lorentz force density acting on the field lines via the pair cloud. These properties of field line dynamics become important in collisionless reconnection, consistently explaining why and how reconnection can spontaneously set on in the field-free centre of a current sheet below the electron-inertial scale.

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