Simulations suggest collisionless steady-state magnetic reconnection of Harris-type current sheets proceeds with a rate of order 0.1, independent of dissipation mechanism. We argue this long-standing puzzle is a result of constraints at the magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) scale. We perform a scaling analysis of the reconnection rate as a function of the opening angle made by the upstream magnetic fields, finding a maximum reconnection rate close to 0.2. The predictions compare favorably to particle-in-cell simulations of relativistic electron-positron and non-relativistic electron-proton reconnection. The fact that simulated reconnection rates are close to the predicted maximum suggests reconnection proceeds near the most efficient state allowed at the MHD-scale. The rate near the maximum is relatively insensitive to the opening angle, potentially explaining why reconnection has a similar fast rate in differing models.
Digital Commons Citation
Liu, Yi-Hsin; Hesse, M.; Guo, F.; Daughton, W.; Li, H.; Cassak, P. A.; and Shay, M. A., "Why Does Steady-State Magnetic Reconnection Have A Maximum Local Rate Of Order 0.1?" (2017). Faculty Scholarship. 733.
Liu, Yi-Hsin., Hesse, M., Guo, F., Daughton, W., Li, H., Cassak, P. A., & Shay, M. A. (2017). Why Does Steady-State Magnetic Reconnection Have A Maximum Local Rate Of Order 0.1?. Physical Review Letters, 118(8). http://doi.org/10.1103/Physrevlett.118.085101