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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    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.

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  3. Abstract Magnetic reconnection has been suggested to play an important role in the dynamics and energetics of plasma turbulence by spacecraft observations, simulations, and theory over the past two decades, and recently, by magnetosheath observations of MMS. A new method based on magnetic flux transport (MFT) has been developed to identify reconnection activity in turbulent plasmas. This method is applied to a gyrokinetic simulation of two-dimensional (2D) plasma turbulence. Results on the identification of three active reconnection X-points are reported. The first two X-points have developed bidirectional electron outflow jets. Beyond the category of electron-only reconnection, the third X-point does not have bidirectional electron outflow jets because the flow is modified by turbulence. In all cases, this method successfully identifies active reconnection through clear inward and outward flux transport around the X-points. This transport pattern defines reconnection and produces a new quadrupolar structure in the divergence of MFT. This method is expected to be applicable to spacecraft missions such as MMS, Parker Solar Probe, and Solar Orbiter. 
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