PPPL-3323 is available in pdf or postscript formats.

Helicity, Reconnection, and Dynamo Effects

Author: Hantao Ji

The inter-relationships between magnetic helicity, magnetic reconnection, and dynamo effects are discussed. In laboratory experiments, where two plasmas are driven to merge, the helicity content of each plasma strongly affects the reconnection rate, as well as the shape of the diffusion region. Conversely, magnetic reconnection events also strongly affect the global helicity, resulting in efficient helicity cancellation (but not dissipation) during counter-helicity reconnection and a finite helicity increase or decrease (but less efficiently than dissipation of magnetic energy) during co-helicity reconnection. Close relationships also exist between magnetic helicity and dynamo effects. The turbulent electromotive force along the mean magnetic field (alpha-effect), due to either electrostatic turbulence or the electron diamagnetic effect, transports mean-field helicity across space without dissipation. This has been supported by direct measurements of helicity flux in a laboratory plasma. When the dynamo effect is driven by electromagnetic turbulence, helicity in the turbulent field is converted to mean-field helicity. In all cases, however, dynamo processes conserve total helicity except for a small battery effect, consistent with the observation that the helicity is approximately conserved during magnetic relaxation.