AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 71. Between the Stars II: The ISM, Galactic and Extragalactic
Display, Wednesday, June 2, 1999, 10:00am-6:30pm, Southwest Exhibit Hall

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[71.20] Interstellar Reconnection and Star Formation

A. Lazarian (CITA), E.T. Vishniac (John Hopkins)

We examine the effect of ion-neutral collisions on the rate of reconnection for a magnetic field that has a weak random component. Earlier work (Lazarian & Vishniac 1999) has shown that the reconnection speed increases dramatically in the presence of stochastic component in a fully ionized plasma. On one hand, the presence of neutral gas entails viscous damping of the turbulent cascade and therefore impedes reconnection. On the other hand, ambipolar diffusion enhances the reconnection rate (Vishniac & Lazarian 1999). As the result, the rate of reconnection initially decreases as the neutral fraction increases, but starts increasing afterwords. We show that the reconnection rate depends on the scale of turbulence damping and may be very efficient in the presence of local sources of turbulence. Moreover, the excitation of turbulence due to ongoing reconnection speeds up reconnection. We discuss the implications of this work for star formation.

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