Contact: Saralyn Stewart
American Physical Society
Caption: These are two magnetized ropes of plasma viewed nearly end on with a fast camera. As the flux ropes become unstable, each rope becomes a helical screw pinch, and gyrates like a barber pole as they "screw" into the external anode. The pair of flux ropes also gyrates. In this way, the instability drives 3-D patches of reconnection where the two flux ropes crash into each other. Two time sequences (top) of fast, gated camera images show the evolutions respectively of two and three flux rope instability and reconnection.
Credit: Tom Intrator, Los Alamos National Laboratory
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Related news release: Ropes of plasma: Onset and stagnation of 3-D magnetic reconnection