Three-dimensional null point reconnection regimes

E. R. Priest, D. I. Pontin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    121 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent advances in theory and computational experiments have shown the need to refine the previous categorization of magnetic reconnection at three-dimensional null points-points at which the magnetic field vanishes. We propose here a division into three different types, depending on the nature of the flow near the spine and fan of the null. The spine is an isolated field line which approaches the null (or recedes from it), while the fan is a surface of field lines which recede from it (or approach it). So-called torsional spine reconnection occurs when field lines in the vicinity of the fan rotate, with current becoming concentrated along the spine so that nearby field lines undergo rotational slippage. In torsional fan reconnection field lines near the spine rotate and create a current that is concentrated in the fan with a rotational flux mismatch and rotational slippage. In both of these regimes, the spine and fan are perpendicular and there is no flux transfer across spine or fan. The third regime, called spine-fan reconnection, is the most common in practice and combines elements of the previous spine and fan models. In this case, in response to a generic shearing motion, the null point collapses to form a current sheet that is focused at the null itself, in a sheet that locally spans both the spine and fan. In this regime the spine and fan are no longer perpendicular and there is flux transfer across both of them.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number122101
    Number of pages15
    JournalPhysics of Plasmas
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


    • Magnetic reconnection
    • Quasi-separatrix layers
    • General magnetic reconnection
    • Spinning footpoint motions
    • Parallel electric fields
    • Current sheet formation
    • Hyperbolic flux tubes
    • Solar corona
    • 3 dimensions
    • Kinematic reconnection
    • Aligned current


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