Reconnecting Magnetic Fields
The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and affiliates.
If you are an active member, affiliate or individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article. Be sure you've entered your member or subscriber number on your profile page. (You can access your profile page through the green box to the right.)
If you are not a member, affiliate or individual subscriber, you can:
Solar storms and other space events can release large magnetic storms that can interact with the magnetosphere around the Earth. When this happens, violent energetic discharges can impact the Earth and cause havoc with satellites and power grids. These events are caused by the crossing and reconnecting of magnetic field lines traveling in opposite directions, but exactly how this magnetic reconnection occurs has been under study for 50 years. Scientist have known about one method, but it’s too slow to account for the violent energy release. Burch and Drake discuss the history of this research, the newest theories for the mechanism behind magnetic reconnection, and an upcoming space mission to learn more.