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  1. Abstract

    We present analysis of 17,043 proton kinetic-scale current sheets (CSs) collected over 124 days of Wind spacecraft measurements in the solar wind at 11 samples s−1magnetic field resolution. The CSs have thickness,λ,from a few tens to one thousand kilometers with typical values around 100 km, or within about 0.1–10λpin terms of local proton inertial length,λp. We found that the current density is larger for smaller-scale CSs,J0≈ 6 nAm−2· (λ/100 km)−0.56, but does not statistically exceed a critical value,JA,corresponding to the drift between ions and electrons of local Alvén speed. The observed trend holds in normalized units:J0/JA0.17·(λ/λp)0.51. The CSs are statistically force-free with magnetic shear angle correlated with CS spatial scale:Δθ19°·(λ/λp)0.5. The observed correlations are consistent with local turbulence being the source of proton kinetic-scale CSs in the solar wind, while the mechanisms limiting the current density remain to be understood.

  2. Abstract We present a data set and properties of 18,785 proton kinetic-scale current sheets collected over 124 days in the solar wind using magnetic field measurements at 1/11 s resolution aboard the Wind spacecraft. We show that all of the current sheets are in the parameter range where reconnection is not suppressed by diamagnetic drift of the X-line. We argue this necessary condition for magnetic reconnection is automatically satisfied due to the geometry of current sheets dictated by their source, which is the local plasma turbulence. The current sheets are shown to be elongated along the background magnetic field and dependence of the current sheet geometry on local plasma beta is revealed. We conclude that reconnection in the solar wind is not likely to be suppressed or controlled by the diamagnetic suppression condition.