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Electron Diffusion Regions in Magnetotail Reconnection Under Varying Guide Fields
NASA, Goddard Space Flight Ctr, Greenbelt, MD 20771 USA;Univ Maryland, Dept Astron, College Pk, MD 20742 USA.
Univ Bergen, Dept Phys & Technol, Bergen, Norway.
Univ Colorado, Atmospher & Space Phys Lab, Campus Box 392, Boulder, CO 80309 USA.
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2019 (English)In: Geophysical Research Letters, ISSN 0094-8276, E-ISSN 1944-8007, Vol. 46, no 12, p. 6230-6238Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Kinetic structures of electron diffusion regions (EDRs) under finite guide fields in magnetotail reconnection are reported. The EDRs with guide fields 0.14-0.5 (in unit of the reconnecting component) are detected by the Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft. The key new features include the following: (1) cold inflowing electrons accelerated along the guide field and demagnetized at the magnetic field minimum while remaining a coherent population with a low perpendicular temperature, (2) wave fluctuations generating strong perpendicular electron flows followed by alternating parallel flows inside the reconnecting current sheet under an intermediate guide field, and (3) gyrophase bunched electrons with high parallel speeds leaving the X-line region. The normalized reconnection rates for the three EDRs range from 0.05 to 0.3. The measurements reveal that finite guide fields introduce new mechanisms to break the electron frozen-in condition. Plain Language Summary Magnetic reconnection plays a crucial role in the dynamics of the terrestrial magnetotail. For reconnection to occur, the plasma must decouple from the magnetic field. The bounce motion of particles in the magnetotail current sheet is regarded as a key to this decoupling for cases when the current sheet has no magnetic field along the direction of the current. This paper reports that while bounce motion remains relevant when a finite magnetic field is present along the current, new mechanisms to decouple electrons from the magnetic field are introduced, and new open questions unfold. The observations are based on measurements from the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission. The mission's unprecedented high cadence electron data make possible the revelation of the new mechanisms. The results reported in this paper expand the frontiers of our knowledge on magnetotail reconnection and have major implications on the fundamental physics of magnetic reconnection in all plasma systems where binary collisions are not effective, including solar, astrophysical, and laboratory plasmas. Rapid dissemination of the results will set the ground for advances in magnetic reconnection research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION , 2019. Vol. 46, no 12, p. 6230-6238
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Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-392877DOI: 10.1029/2019GL082393ISI: 000477616300009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-392877DiVA, id: diva2:1354703
Available from: 2019-09-26 Created: 2019-09-26 Last updated: 2019-09-26Bibliographically approved

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Khotyaintsev, Yuri V.
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Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala Division
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