Author: FM Liew
Date: 07-26-06 09:39
An international team led by Chinese scientists has found the first in situ evidence for the existance of a null point in the central area of megantic reconnection. The discovery was reported in the July issue of Nature Physics.
Magnetic reconnection, a process whereby the lines of a complex magnetic field break and reconnect to alter its structure drastically, is of fundemental importance to the studies of astrophysical, space and laboratory plasmas, says XIAO Chijie, lead author of the Nature Physics article and an astrophysicst from the National Astronomical Obervatories at CAS (NAOC).
For instance, solar flares, the largest explosions in the solar system, are caused by reconnection of large systems of magnetic flux on the Sun, releasing in minutes energy that is stored in the magnetic field over a period of weeks to years, which is sometimes billion times more powerful than an atomic bomb. Magnetic reconnection in Earth's magnetosphere is responsible for the aurora, and it is important to the science of controlled nuclear fusion, which provides scientific basis for the so-called "man-made sun," because it is one mechanism preventing magnetic confinement of the fusion fuel.
More details: http://english.cas.ac.cn/Eng2003/news/detailnewsb.asp?infoNo=26126