Magnetic reconnection (MR) converts magnetic energy into kinetic and thermal energy of a plasma through a rearrangement in the connectivity of magnetic field lines. It represents a phenomenon of fundamental importance for both astrophysical and laboratory plasmas. We propose to carry out an analysis of MR in weakly collisional plasmas by taking into account kinetic effects, in order to better understand and go beyond the limitations imposed by the commonly adopted MR models based on a fluid description of a plasma. In particular, we shall consider the effect of pressure anisotropy and the role of a magnetic guide field.
The first stage of the project will consist of an analysis of a recently derived fluid model for MR, which is valid for guide fields of arbitrary intensity. Subsequently we will perform an investigation based on a kinetic model. Finally, a comparison between the results derived from fluid and kinetic models will be carried out. The work methodology will be based on a combination of analytical and numerical techniques. This project will benefit from the candidate's experience acquired during his PhD studies supported by a European training Network fellowship. However, that of MR is a very broad area of research and this project is not simply a continuation of the candidate's PhD work, but it will exploit the state-of-the-art numerical techniques. Furthermore, the consequences of research work will be assessed mostly in the context of laboratory plasmas, with a direct comparison with experimental data, while the candidate's PhD work was relevant mainly to solar plasma physics.
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