Physics of Magnetic Reconnection

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Understanding magnetic reconnection is one of the major challenges of plasma physics. It plays an essential role in a wide range of physical systems such as stellar flares, accretion disks, active galactic nuclei, astrophysical dynamos and closer to home, intense magnetic energy releases in the Earth's magnetosphere. It is a phenomena which can be created in the laboratory.
Magnetic reconnection occurs when oppositely directed components of field lines are broken and re-connected resulting in destruction of magnetic flux and topological rearrangement of magnetic field lines on very small scales. This can induce the release of magnetic energy on large scales resulting in high speed flows, heating and energetic particle production.
There is a strong connection between formation of singular structures in flows and magnetic reconnection which I will discuss and tie this into some of the laboratory and natural physical systems under recent study.
In addition to giving a contemporary overview on this subject I will discuss some open questions.