skip to main content

Title: Direct observations of anomalous resistivity and diffusion in collisionless plasma
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.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1805829 2109083
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The ionospheric Alfvén resonator (IAR) is a structure formed by the rapid decrease in the plasma density above a planetary ionosphere. This results in a corresponding increase in the Alfvén speed that can provide partial reflection of Alfvén waves. At Earth, the IAR on auroral field lines is associated with the broadband acceleration of auroral particles, sometimes termed the Alfvénic aurora. This arises since phase mixing in the IAR reduces the perpendicular wavelength of the Alfvén waves, which enhances the parallel electric field due to electron inertia. This parallel electric field fluctuates at frequencies of 0.1–20.0 Hz, comparable to the electron transit time through the acceleration region, leading to the broadband acceleration. The prevalence of such broadband acceleration at Jupiter suggests that a similar process can occur in the Jovian IAR. A numerical model of Alfvén wave propagation in the Jovian IAR has been developed to investigate these interactions, indicating that the IAR resonant frequencies are in the same range as those at Earth. This model describes the evolution of the electric and magnetic fields in the low‐altitude region close to Jupiter that is sampled during Juno's perijove passes. In particular, the model relates measurement of magnetic fields below the ion cyclotron frequency from the MAG and Waves instruments on Juno and electric fields from Waves to the associated parallel electric fields that can accelerate auroral particles.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    We investigate waves close to the lower‐hybrid frequency in 12 magnetotail reconnection electron diffusion region (EDR) events with guide field levels of near‐zero to 30%. In about half of the events, the wave vector has a small component along the current sheet normal, consistent with known lower‐hybrid drift wave properties, but the perpendicular magnetic field fluctuations can be comparable or greater than the parallel component, a feature unique to the waves inside and adjacent to EDRs. Another new wave property is that the wave vector has a significant component along the current sheet normal in some events and completely along the normal for one event. In 1/4 of the events, theterm has a significant contribution to the wave electric field, possibly a feature of lower‐hybrid waves more likely to exist in the diffusion region than further away from the X‐line. Electron temperature variations are correlated with the wave potential, due to wave electric field acceleration and crossings at the corrugated separatrix region with different amounts of mixing between reconnection inflowing and outflowing populations. The latter also leads to the anti‐correlation between parallel and perpendicular temperature components. Using four‐spacecraft measurements, the magnetic field line twisting is demonstrated by the correlated fluctuations inand. The lower‐hybrid wave in the EDR of weak guide field reconnection may be generated near separatrices and penetrate to the mid‐plane or locally generated, and the latter possibility is beyond the prediction of previous reconnection simulations.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Magnetic reconnection and plasma turbulence are ubiquitous and key processes in the Universe. These two processes are suggested to be intrinsically related: magnetic reconnection can develop turbulence, and, in turn, turbulence can influence or excite magnetic reconnection. In this study, we report a rare and unique electron diffusion region (EDR) observed by the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission in the Earth’s magnetotail with significantly enhanced energetic particle fluxes. The EDR is in a region of strong turbulence within which the plasma density is dramatically depleted. We present three salient features. (1) Despite the turbulence, the EDR behaves nearly the same as that in 2D quasi-planar reconnection; the observations suggest that magnetic reconnection continues for several minutes. (2) The observed reconnection electric field and inferred energy transport are exceptionally large. However, the aspect ratio of the EDR (one definition of reconnection rate) is fairly typical. Instead, extraordinarily large-amplitude Hall electric fields appear to enable the strong energy transport. (3) We hypothesize that the high-energy transport rate, density depletion, and the strong particle acceleration are related to a near-runaway effect, which is due to the combination of low-plasma-density inflow (from lobes) and possible positive feedback between turbulence and reconnection. The detailed study on this EDR gives insight into the interplay between reconnection and turbulence, and the possible near-runaway effect, which may play an important role in other particle acceleration in astrophysical plasma.

    more » « less
  4. Various high-frequency waves in the vicinity of upper-hybrid and Langmuir frequencies are commonly observed in different space plasma environments. Such waves and fluctuations have been reported in the magnetosphere of the Earth, a planet with an intrinsic strong magnetic field. Mars has no intrinsic magnetic field and, instead, it possesses a weak induced magnetosphere, which is highly dynamic due to direct exposure to the solar wind. In the present paper, we investigate the presence of high-frequency plasma waves in the Martian plasma environment by making use of the high-resolution electric field data from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution missioN (MAVEN) spacecraft. Aims. This study aims to provide conclusive observational evidence of the occurrence of high-frequency plasma waves around the electron plasma frequency in the Martian magnetosphere. We observe two distinct wave modes with frequency below and above the electron plasma frequency. The characteristics of these high-frequency waves are quantified and presented here. We discuss the generation of possible wave modes by taking into account the ambient plasma parameters in the region of observation. Methods. We have made use of the medium frequency (100 Hz–32 kHz) burst mode-calibrated electric field data from the Langmuir Probe and Waves instrument on board NASA’s MAVEN mission. Due to the weak magnetic field strength, the electron gyro-frequency is much lower than the electron plasma frequency, which implies that the upper-hybrid and Langmuir waves have comparable frequencies. A total of 19 wave events with wave activities around electron plasma frequency were identified by examining high-resolution spectrograms of the electric field. Results. These waves were observed around 5 LT when MAVEN crossed the magnetopause boundary and entered the magnetosheath region. These waves are either a broadband- or narrowband-type with distinguishable features in the frequency domain. The narrowband-type waves have spectral peak above the electron plasma frequency. However, in the case of broadband-type waves, the spectral peak always occurred below the electron plasma frequency. The broadband waves consistently show a periodic modulation of 8–14 ms. Conclusions. The high-frequency narrowband-type waves observed above the electron plasma frequency are believed to be associated with upper-hybrid or Langmuir waves. However, the physical mechanism responsible for the generation of broadband-type waves and the associated 8–14 ms modulation remain unexplained and further investigation is required. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Electron ring velocity space distributions have previously been seen in numerical simulations of magnetic reconnection exhausts and have been suggested to be caused by the magnetization of the electron outflow jet by the compressed reconnected magnetic fields (Shuster et al., 2014, We present a theory of the dependence of the major and minor radii of the ring distributions solely in terms of upstream (lobe) plasma conditions, thereby allowing a prediction of the associated temperature and temperature anisotropy of the rings in terms of upstream parameters. We test the validity of the prediction using 2.5‐dimensional particle‐in‐cell (PIC) simulations with varying upstream plasma density and temperature, finding excellent agreement between the predicted and simulated values. We confirm the Shuster et al. suggestion for the cause of the ring distributions, and also find that the ring distributions are located in a region marked by a plateau, or shoulder, in the reconnected magnetic field profile. The predictions of the temperature are consistent with observed electron temperatures in dipolarization fronts, and may provide an explanation for the generation of plasma with temperatures in the 10s of MK in super‐hot solar flares. A possible extension of the model to dayside reconnection is discussed. Since ring distributions are known to excite whistler waves, the present results should be useful for quantifying the generation of whistler waves in reconnection exhausts.

    more » « less