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Non-linear tearing of 3D null point current sheets

Wyper, P.; Pontin, D.

Non-linear tearing of 3D null point current sheets Thumbnail


D. Pontin


The manner in which the rate of magnetic reconnection scales with the Lundquist number in realistic three-dimensional (3D) geometries is still an unsolved problem. It has been demonstrated that in 2D rapid non-linear tearing allows the reconnection rate to become almost independent of the Lundquist number (the “plasmoid instability”). Here, we present the first study of an analogous instability in a fully 3D geometry, defined by a magnetic null point. The 3D null current layer is found to be susceptible to an analogous instability but is marginally more stable than an equivalent 2D Sweet-Parker-like layer. Tearing of the sheet creates a thin boundary layer around the separatrix surface, contained within a flux envelope with a hyperbolic structure that mimics a spine-fan topology. Efficient mixing of flux between the two topological domains occurs as the flux rope structures created during the tearing process evolve within this envelope. This leads to a substantial increase in the rate of reconnection between the two domains.


Wyper, P., & Pontin, D. (2014). Non-linear tearing of 3D null point current sheets. Physics of Plasmas, 21(8), Article 082114.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 4, 2014
Online Publication Date Aug 15, 2014
Publication Date Aug 15, 2014
Deposit Date Oct 18, 2016
Publicly Available Date Mar 29, 2017
Journal Physics of Plasmas
Print ISSN 1070-664X
Electronic ISSN 1089-7674
Publisher American Institute of Physics
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 8
Article Number 082114


Published Journal Article (3.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2014 American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. The following article appeared in Wyper, P. & Pontin, D. (2014). Non-linear tearing of 3D null point current sheets. Physics of Plasmas 21(8): 082114 and may be found at

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