The equations of high- and low-beta reduced magnetohydrodynamics (RMHD) are considered anew in order to elucidate the relationship between compressible MHD and RMHD and also to distinguish RMHD from recently developed models of nearly incompressible MHD. Our results, summarized in two theorems, provide the conditions under which RMHD represents a valid reduction of compressible MHD. The equations for low-beta RMHD and high-beta RMHD are shown to be identical. Furthermore, as a direct consequence of our analysis, the conditions under which both two-dimensional incompressible MHD (in terms of the spatial co-ordinates as well as the fluid variables) and 2½ dimensional incompressible MHD (i.e. only two-dimensional in the spatial co-ordinates) represent a valid reduction of three-dimensional compressible MHD are also formulated. It is found that the elimination of all high-frequency and long-wavelength modes from the magneto-fluid reduces the fully compressible MHD equations to either two-dimensional incompressible MHD in the plasma beta (β) limit β ≪ 1, or 2½-dimensional incompressible MHD for β ≈ 1. Our approach clarifies several inconsistencies to be found in previous investigations in that the reduction is exact. Our results and analysis are expected to be of interest for plasma fusion and space and solar physics.
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