Space Science Reviews

, Volume 122, Issue 1, pp 19-27

First online:

Microphysics of Magnetic Reconnection

  • Andris VaivadsAffiliated withSwedish Institute of Space Physics Email author 
  • , Alessandro RetinòAffiliated withSwedish Institute of Space Physics
  • , Mats AndréAffiliated withSwedish Institute of Space Physics

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Magnetic reconnection is a universal phenomenon where energy is efficiently converted from the magnetic field to charged particles as a result of global magnetic topology changes during which earlier separated plasma regions become magnetically connected. While the reconnection affects large volumes in space most of the topology changes and of the energization occur within small localized regions. Regions of special importance are the X-region and the separatrix region. The understanding of the microphysics of these regions is crucial for the overall understanding of the reconnection. The Earth magnetosphere is the best environment where the details of these regions can be studied in situ. We summarize their main properties and discuss recent spacecraft observations.


magnetic reconnection magnetosphere X-line diffusion region