- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Physical review letters
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Abstract Magnetic reconnection is invoked as one of the primary mechanisms to produce energetic particles. We employ large-scale 3D particle-in-cell simulations of reconnection in magnetically dominated ( σ = 10) pair plasmas to study the energization physics of high-energy particles. We identify an acceleration mechanism that only operates in 3D. For weak guide fields, 3D plasmoids/flux ropes extend along the z -direction of the electric current for a length comparable to their cross-sectional radius. Unlike in 2D simulations, where particles are buried in plasmoids, in 3D we find that a fraction of particles with γ ≳ 3 σ can escape from plasmoids by moving along z , and so they can experience the large-scale fields in the upstream region. These “free” particles preferentially move in z along Speiser-like orbits sampling both sides of the layer and are accelerated linearly in time—their Lorentz factor scales as γ ∝ t , in contrast to γ ∝ t in 2D. The energy gain rate approaches ∼ eE rec c , where E rec ≃ 0.1 B 0 is the reconnection electric field and B 0 the upstream magnetic field. The spectrum of free particles is hard, dN free / d γ ∝ γ − 1.5 , contains ∼20% of the dissipated magnetic energy independently of domain size, and extends up to a cutoff energy scaling linearly with box size. Our results demonstrate that relativistic reconnection in GRB and AGN jets may be a promising mechanism for generating ultra-high-energy cosmic rays.more » « less
Magnetic reconnection in a quasi‐parallel bow shock is investigated with two‐dimensional local particle‐in‐cell simulations. In the shock transition and downstream regions, large amplitude magnetic fluctuations exist, and abundant current sheets form. In some current sheets, reconnection occurs, and ion‐scale and electron‐scale magnetic islands are generated. In electron‐scale island regions, only electron outflow jets are observed, producing a quadrupolar out‐of‐plane magnetic field pattern, while in ion‐scale islands, both ions and electrons are involved and energized in reconnection. Normalized reconnection rates are obtained to be between around 0.1 to 0.2, and particle acceleration signatures are seen in distribution functions.
We report evidence of magnetic reconnection in the transition region of the Earth's bow shock when the angle between the shock normal and the immediate upstream magnetic field is 65°. An ion‐skin‐depth‐scale current sheet exhibits the Hall current and field pattern, electron outflow jet, and enhanced energy conversion rate through the nonideal electric field, all consistent with a reconnection diffusion region close to the X‐line. In the diffusion region, electrons are modulated by electromagnetic waves. An ion exhaust with energized field‐aligned ions and electron parallel heating are observed in the same shock transition region. The energized ions are more separated from the inflowing ions in velocity above the current sheet than below, possibly due to the shear flow between the two inflow regions. The observation suggests that magnetic reconnection may contribute to shock energy dissipation.
Three-dimensional kinetic-scale turbulence is studied numerically in the regime where electrons are strongly magnetized (the ratio of plasma species pressure to magnetic pressure is βe = 0.1 for electrons and βi = 1 for ions). Such a regime is relevant in the vicinity of the solar corona, the Earth’s magnetosheath, and other astrophysical systems. The simulations, performed using the fluid-kinetic spectral plasma solver (sps) code, demonstrate that the turbulent cascade in such regimes can reach scales smaller than the electron inertial scale, and results in the formation of electron-scale current sheets (ESCS). Statistical analysis of the geometrical properties of the detected ESCS is performed using an algorithm based on the medial axis transform. A typical half-thickness of the current sheets is found to be on the order of electron inertial length or below, while their half-length falls between the electron and ion inertial length. The pressure–strain interaction, used as a measure of energy dissipation, exhibits high intermittency, with the majority of the total energy exchange occurring in current structures occupying approximately 20 per cent of the total volume. Some of the current sheets corresponding to the largest pressure–strain interaction are found to be associated with Alfvénic electron jets and magnetic configurations typical of reconnection. These reconnection candidates represent about 1 per cent of all the current sheets identified.
Generation and propagation of lower hybrid drift wave (LHDW) near the electron diffusion region (EDR) during guide field reconnection at the magnetopause is studied with data from the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission and a theoretical model. Inside the current sheet, the electron beta (
) determines which type of LHDW is excited. Inside the EDR, where the electron beta is high ( βe ), the long‐wavelength electromagnetic LHDW is observed propagating obliquely to the local magnetic field. In contrast, the short‐wavelength electrostatic LHDW, propagating nearly perpendicular to the magnetic field, is observed slightly away from the EDR, where βe ∼ 5 is small ( βe ∼0.6). These observed LHDW features are explained by a local theoretical model, including effects from the electron temperature anisotropy, finite electron heat flux, electrostatics, and parallel current. The short‐wavelength LHDW is capable of generating significant drag force between electrons and ions.