Collisionless reconnection: magnetic field line interaction
Magnetic field lines are quantum objects carrying one quantum Φ 0 = 2π h/e of magnetic flux and have finite radius λ m. Here we argue that they possess a very specific dynamical interaction. Parallel field lines reject each other. When confined to a certain area they form two-dimensional lattices of hexagonal structure. We estimate the filling factor of such an area. Anti-parallel field lines, on the other hand, attract each other. We identify the physical mechanism as being due to the action of the gauge potential field, which we determine quantum mechanically for two parallel and two anti-parallel field lines. The distortion of the quantum electrodynamic vacuum causes a cloud of virtual pairs. We calculate the virtual pair production rate from quantum electrodynamics and estimate the virtual pair cloud density, pair current and Lorentz force density acting on the field lines via the pair cloud. These properties of field line dynamics become important in collisionless reconnection, consistently explaining why and how reconnection can spontaneously set on in the field-free centre of a current sheet below the electron-inertial scale.