Magnetic reconnection is widely believed responsible for heating the solar corona as well as for generating X-rays and energetic particles in solar flares. On astrophysical scales, reconnection in the intergalactic plasma is a prime candidate for a local source (Mpc) of cosmic rays exceeding the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin cutoff (&SIM;10(19) eV). In a laboratory astrophysics experiment, we have made the first observation of particles accelerated by magnetic reconnection events to energies significantly above both the thermal and the characteristic magnetohydrodynamic energies. These particles are correlated temporally and spatially with the formation of three-dimensional magnetic structures in the reconnection region.
Michael R. Brown; C. D. Cothran; Matthew Joseph Landreman , '03; David J. Schlossberg , '01; and W. H. Matthaeus.
"Experimental Observation Of Energetic Ions Accelerated By Three-Dimensional Magnetic Reconnection In A Laboratory Plasma".