Particle acceleration and kinetic energy

  • #1
I was reading about magnetic reconnection in astrophysical plasma and it says that magnetic reconnection transforms magnetic energy into heat via ohmic dissipation, particle acceleration and kinetic energy.
It is not clear to me the difference between particle acceleration and kinetic energy. If a particle is accelerated doesn't have also kinetic energy?
Thank you in advance for any reply.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Well given acceleration is a vector it could mean "deceleration" or changing direction. But given that only when the acceleration is an increase of speed does this reflect a case which "transforms magnetic energy into heat" I believe you are correct in wondering if there is any difference. The author may have some other process in mind. After all heat is not equivalent to kinetic energy which is why a projectile heats up when it hits a target. They may be thinking of something along those lines.

Another issue that immediately pops up in my mind is that magnet forces are always normal to the velocity of a charged particle so cannot affect speed (in the frame where all forces are purely magnetic). So I'd argue that one is here talking also about induced electric forces due to the changing magnetic field.

But I have never myself studied "magnetic reconnection" so you should not consider me as an expert at all.

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