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Title: Electron-only reconnection and associated electron heating and acceleration in PHASMA
Using incoherent Thomson scattering, electron heating and acceleration at the electron velocity distribution function (EVDF) level are investigated during electron-only reconnection in the PHAse Space MApping (PHASMA) facility. Reconnection arises during the merger of two kink-free flux ropes. Both push and pull type reconnection occur in a single discharge. Electron heating is localized around the separatrix, and the electron temperature increases continuously along the separatrix with distance from the X-line. The local measured gain in enthalpy flux is up to 70% of the incoming Poynting flux. Notably, non-Maxwellian EVDFs comprised of a warm bulk population and a cold beam are directly measured during the electron-only reconnection. The electron beam velocity is comparable to, and scales with, electron Alfvén speed, revealing the signature of electron acceleration caused by electron-only reconnection. The observation of oppositely directed electron beams on either side of the X-point provides “smoking-gun” evidence of the occurrence of electron-only reconnection in PHASMA. 2D particle-in-cell simulations agree well with the laboratory measurements. The measured conversion of Poynting flux into electron enthalpy is consistent with recent observations of electron-only reconnection in the magnetosheath [Phan et al., Nature 557, 202 (2018)] at similar dimensionless parameters as in the experiments. The laboratory measurements more » go beyond the magnetosheath observations by directly resolving the electron temperature gain. « less
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Physics of Plasmas
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National Science Foundation
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