Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of
Colorado, Boulder, CO 80303, USA
Magnetic reconnection changes magnetic field line topology in a plasma and initiates a conversion of stored magnetic energy to bulk flow and thermal energy. It is a microscopic process that has profound macroscopic consequences in solar and space plasmas. Here we provide an overview of some of the global effects produced by magnetic reconnection in heliospace and attempt to distinguish what is universal about the overall reconnection process as opposed to what appears to be unique to specific solar and space environments.