Three-dimensional Oscillatory Magnetic Reconnection

Jonathan O. Thurgood, David I. Pontin, James A. McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)
181 Downloads (Pure)


Here we detail the dynamic evolution of localized reconnection regions about 3D magnetic null points using numerical simulation. We demonstrate for the first time that reconnection triggered by the localized collapse of a 3D null point that is due to an external magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) wave involves a self-generated oscillation, whereby the current sheet and outflow jets undergo a reconnection reversal process during which back-pressure formation at the jet heads acts to prise open the collapsed field before overshooting the equilibrium into an opposite-polarity configuration. The discovery that reconnection at fully 3D nulls can proceed naturally in a time-dependent and periodic fashion suggests that oscillatory reconnection mechanisms may play a role in explaining periodicity in astrophysical phenomena associated with magnetic reconnection, such as the observed quasi-periodicity of solar and stellar flare emission. Furthermore, we find that a consequence of oscillatory reconnection is the generation of a plethora of freely propagating MHD waves that escape the vicinity of the reconnection region.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2017


  • magnetic reconnection
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • plasmas
  • Sun: flares
  • Sun: oscillations
  • waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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