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  1. Magnetic reconnection is an energy conversion process that occurs in many astrophysical contexts including Earth’s magnetosphere, where the process can be investigated in situ by spacecraft. On 11 July 2017, the four Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft encountered a reconnection site in Earth’s magnetotail, where reconnection involves symmetric inflow conditions. The electron-scale plasma measurements revealed (i) super-Alfvénic electron jets reaching 15,000 kilometers per second; (ii) electron meandering motion and acceleration by the electric field, producing multiple crescent-shaped structures in the velocity distributions; and (iii) the spatial dimensions of the electron diffusion region with an aspect ratio of 0.1 to 0.2, consistent with fast reconnection. The well-structured multiple layers of electron populations indicate that the dominant electron dynamics are mostly laminar, despite the presence of turbulence near the reconnection site. 
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  2. Abstract

    We report the observation of solar wind‐magnetosphere‐ionosphere interactions using a series of flux transfer events (FTEs) observed by Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) mission located near the dayside magnetopause on 18 December 2017. The FTEs were observed to propagate duskward and either southward or slightly northward, as predicted under duskward and southward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). The Cooling model also predicted a significant dawnward propagation of northward‐moving FTEs. Near the MMS footprint, a series of poleward‐moving auroral forms (PMAFs) occurred almost simultaneously with those FTEs. They propagated poleward and westward, consistent with the modeled FTE propagation. The intervals between FTEs, relatively consistent with those between PMAFs, strongly suggest a one‐to‐one correspondence between the dayside transients and ionospheric responses. The FTEs embedded in continuous reconnection observed by MMS and corresponding PMAFs individually occurred during persistent auroral activity recorded by an all‐sky imager strongly indicate that those FTEs/PMAFs resulted from the temporal modulation of the reconnection rate during continuous reconnection. With the decay of the PMAFs associated with the FTEs, patch‐like plasma density enhancements were detected to form and propagate poleward and then dawnward. Propagation to the dawn was also suggested by the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) convection and Global Positioning System (GPS) total electron content data. We relate the temporal variation of the driving solar‐wind and magnetospheric mechanism to that of the high‐latitude and polar ionospheric responses and estimate the response time.

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  3. Abstract

    On 5 May 2017, MMS observed a crater‐type flux rope on the dawnside tailward magnetopause with fluctuations. The boundary‐normal analysis shows that the fluctuations can be attributed to nonlinear Kelvin‐Helmholtz (KH) waves. Reconnection signatures such as flow reversals and Joule dissipation were identified at the leading and trailing edges of the flux rope. In particular, strong northward electron jets observed at the trailing edge indicated midlatitude reconnection associated with the 3‐D structure of the KH vortex. The scale size of the flux rope, together with reconnection signatures, strongly supports the interpretation that the flux rope was generated locally by KH vortex‐induced reconnection. The center of the flux rope also displayed signatures of guide‐field reconnection (out‐of‐plane electron jets, parallel electron heating, and Joule dissipation). These signatures indicate that an interface between two interlinked flux tubes was undergoing interaction, causing a local magnetic depression, resulting in an M‐shaped crater flux rope, as supported by reconstruction.

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  4. Abstract

    While vorticity defined as the curl of the velocity has been broadly used in fluid and plasma physics, this quantity has been underutilized in space physics due to low time resolution observations. We report Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) observations of enhanced electron vorticity in the vicinity of the electron diffusion region of magnetic reconnection. On 11 July 2017 MMS traversed the magnetotail current sheet, observing tailward‐to‐earthward outflow reversal, current‐carrying electron jets in the direction along the electron meandering motion or out‐of‐plane direction, agyrotropic electron distribution functions, and dissipative signatures. At the edge of the electron jets, the electron vorticity increased with magnitudes greater than the electron gyrofrequency. The out‐of‐plane velocity shear along distance from the current sheet leads to the enhanced vorticity. This, in turn, contributes to the magnetic field perturbations observed by MMS. These observations indicate that electron vorticity can act as a proxy for delineating the electron diffusion region of magnetic reconnection.

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