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- 1391 to 1395
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- National Science Foundation
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Characterizing Velocity-Space Signatures of Electron Energization in Large-Guide-Field Collisionless Magnetic ReconnectionMagnetic reconnection plays an important role in the release of magnetic energy and consequent energization of particles in collisionless plasmas. Energy transfer in collisionless magnetic reconnection is inherently a two-step process: reversible, collisionless energization of particles by the electric field, followed by collisional thermalization of that energy, leading to irreversible plasma heating. Gyrokinetic numerical simulations are used to explore the first step of electron energization, and we generate the first examples of field-particle correlation (FPC) signatures of electron energization in 2D strong-guide-field collisionless magnetic reconnection. We determine these velocity space signatures at the x-point and in the exhaust, the regions of the reconnection geometry in which the electron energization primarily occurs. Modeling of these velocity-space signatures shows that, in the strong-guide-field limit, the energization of electrons occurs through bulk acceleration of the out-of-plane electron flow by parallel electric field that drives the reconnection, a non-resonant mechanism of energization. We explore the variation of these velocity-space signatures over the plasma beta range 0.01 < beta_i < 1. Our analysis goes beyond the fluid picture of the plasma dynamics and exploits the kinetic features of electron energization in the exhaust region to propose a single-point diagnostic which can potentially identify a reconnectionmore »
Modeling Electron Acceleration and Transport in the Early Impulsive Phase of the 2017 September 10th Solar FlareAbstract The X8.2-class limb flare on 2017 September 10 is among the best studied solar flare events owing to its great similarity to the standard flare model and the broad coverage by multiple spacecraft and ground-based observations. These multiwavelength observations indicate that electron acceleration and transport are efficient in the reconnection and flare looptop regions. However, there lacks a comprehensive model for explaining and interpreting the multi-faceted observations. In this work, we model the electron acceleration and transport in the early impulsive phase of this flare. We solve the Parker transport equation that includes the primary acceleration mechanism during magnetic reconnection in the large-scale flare region modeled by MHD simulations. We find that electrons are accelerated up to several MeV and fill a large volume of the reconnection region, similar to the observations shown in microwaves. The electron spatial distribution and spectral shape in the looptop region agree well with those derived from the microwave and hard X-ray emissions before magnetic islands grow large and dominate the acceleration. Future emission modelings using the electron maps will enable direct comparison with microwave and hard X-ray observations. These results shed new light on the electron acceleration and transport in a broad regionmore »
Abstract Coulomb collisions provide plasma resistivity and diffusion but in many low-density astrophysical plasmas such collisions between particles are extremely rare. Scattering of particles by electromagnetic waves can lower the plasma conductivity. Such anomalous resistivity due to wave-particle interactions could be crucial to many processes, including magnetic reconnection. It has been suggested that waves provide both diffusion and resistivity, which can support the reconnection electric field, but this requires direct observation to confirm. Here, we directly quantify anomalous resistivity, viscosity, and cross-field electron diffusion associated with lower hybrid waves using measurements from the four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft. We show that anomalous resistivity is approximately balanced by anomalous viscosity, and thus the waves do not contribute to the reconnection electric field. However, the waves do produce an anomalous electron drift and diffusion across the current layer associated with magnetic reconnection. This leads to relaxation of density gradients at timescales of order the ion cyclotron period, and hence modifies the reconnection process.
Magnetic Flux Transport Identification of Active Reconnection: MMS Observations in Earth’s Magnetosphere
Magnetic reconnection plays an important role in converting energy while modifying field topology. This process takes place under varied plasma conditions during which the transport of magnetic flux is intrinsic. Identifying active magnetic reconnection sites with in situ observations is challenging. A new technique, Magnetic Flux Transport (MFT) analysis, has been developed recently and proven in numerical simulation for identifying active reconnection efficiently and accurately. In this study, we examine the MFT process in 37 previously reported electron diffusion region (EDR)/reconnection-line crossing events at the day-side magnetopause and in the magnetotail and turbulent magnetosheath using Magnetospheric Multiscale measurements. The coexisting inward and outward MFT flows at an X-point provides a signature that magnetic field lines become disconnected and reconnected. The application of MFT analysis to in-situ observations demonstrates that MFT can successfully identify active reconnection sites under complex varied conditions, including asymmetric and turbulent upstream conditions. It also provides a higher rate of identification than plasma outflow jets alone. MFT can be applied to in situ measurements from both single- and multi-spacecraft missions and laboratory experiments.
The rate of magnetic reconnection is of the utmost importance in a variety of processes because it controls, for example, the rate energy is released in solar flares, the speed of the Dungey convection cycle in Earth’s magnetosphere, and the energy release rate in harmful geomagnetic substorms. It is known from numerical simulations and satellite observations that the rate is approximately 0.1 in normalized units, but despite years of effort, a full theoretical prediction has not been obtained. Here, we present a first-principles theory for the reconnection rate in non-relativistic electron-ion collisionless plasmas, and show that the same prediction explains why Sweet-Parker reconnection is considerably slower. The key consideration of this analysis is the pressure at the reconnection site (i.e., the x-line). We show that the Hall electromagnetic fields in antiparallel reconnection cause an energy void, equivalently a pressure depletion, at the x-line, so the reconnection exhaust opens out, enabling the fast rate of 0.1. If the energy can reach the x-line to replenish the pressure, the exhaust does not open out. In addition to heliospheric applications, these results are expected to impact reconnection studies in planetary magnetospheres, magnetically confined fusion devices, and astrophysical plasmas.