Theoretical arguments and large-scale two-fluid simulations are used to study the spreading of reconnection X-lines localized in the direction of the current as a func- tion of the strength of the out-of-plane (guide) magnetic field. It is found that the mech- anism causing the spreading is different for weak and strong guide fields. In the weak guide field limit, spreading is due to the motion of the current carriers, as has been pre- viously established. However, spreading for strong guide fields is bi-directional and is due to the excitation of Alfv\'en waves along the guide field. In general, we suggest that the X-line spreads bi-directionally with a speed governed by the faster of the two mecha- nisms for each direction. A prediction on the strength of the guide field at which the spread- ing mechanism changes is formulated and verified with three-dimensional simulations. Solar, magnetospheric, and laboratory applications are discussed.
Digital Commons Citation
Shepherd, L. S. and Cassak, P. A., "Guide field dependence of 3-D X-line spreading during collisionless magnetic reconnection" (2012). Faculty Scholarship. 180.
Shepherd, L. S., &Cassak, P. A. (2012). Guide Field Dependence Of 3-D X-Line Spreading During Collisionless Magnetic Reconnection. Journal of Geophysical Research, 117(A10), n/a-n/a. http://doi.org/10.1029/2012JA017867