Date: June 18, 2002
Creator: T.A. Carter, M. Yamada, H. Ji, R.M. Kulsrud, and F. Trintchouk
Description: The role of turbulence in the process of magnetic reconnection has been the subject of a great deal of study and debate in the theoretical literature. At issue in this debate is whether turbulence is essential for fast magnetic reconnection to occur in collisionless current sheets. Some theories claim it is necessary in order to provide anomalous resistivity, while others present a laminar fast reconnection mechanism based on the Hall term in the generalized Ohm's law. In this work, a thorough study of electrostatic potential fluctuations in the current sheet of the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) [M. Yamada et al., Phys. Plasmas 4, 1936 (1997)] was performed in order to ascertain the importance of turbulence in a laboratory reconnection experiment. Using amplified floating Langmuir probes, broadband fluctuations in the lower hybrid frequency range (fLH approximately 5-15 MHz) were measured which arise with the formation of the current sheet in MRX. The frequency spectrum, spatial amplitude profile, and spatial correlation characteristics of the measured turbulence were examined carefully, finding consistency with theories of the lower-hybrid drift instability (LHDI). The LHDI and its role in magnetic reconnection has been studied theoretically for decades, but this work represents the first detection and detailed ...
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