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Where should MMS look for electron diffusion regions?
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Computational Science and Technology (CST).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0639-0639
2016 (English)In: Journal of Physics, Conference Series, ISSN 1742-6588, E-ISSN 1742-6596, Vol. 719, no 1, 12011Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A great possible achievement for the MMS mission would be crossing electron diffusion regions (EDR). EDR are regions in proximity of reconnection sites where electrons decouple from field lines, breaking the frozen in condition. Decades of research on reconnection have produced a widely shared map of where EDRs are. We expect reconnection to take place around a so called x-point formed by the intersection of the separatrices dividing inflowing from outflowing plasma. The EDR forms around this x-point as a small electron scale box nested inside a larger ion diffusion region. But this point of view is based on a 2D mentality. We have recently proposed that once the problem is considered in full 3D, secondary reconnection events can form [Lapenta et al., Nature Physics, 11, 690, 2015] in the outflow regions even far downstream from the primary reconnection site. We revisit here this new idea confirming that even using additional indicators of reconnection and even considering longer periods and wider distances the conclusion remains true: secondary reconnection sites form downstream of a reconnection outflow causing a sort of chain reaction of cascading reconnection sites. If we are right, MMS will have an interesting journey even when not crossing necessarily the primary site. The chances are greatly increased that even if missing a primary site during an orbit, MMS could stumble instead on one of these secondary sites.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institute of Physics Publishing (IOPP), 2016. Vol. 719, no 1, 12011
Keyword [en]
Diffusion, Numerical models, Plasma devices, Plasma flow, Plasma jets, Chain reaction, Electron diffusion, Field lines, Ion diffusion, MMS mission, Reconnection sites, Separatrices, X-point
National Category
Physical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-194571DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/719/1/012011ISI: 000386617200011ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84978159559OAI: diva2:1041495
10th International Conference on Numerical Modeling of Space Plasma Flows, ASTRONUM 2015, Avignon, France, 8 June 2015 through 12 June 2015

QC 20161031

Available from: 2016-10-31 Created: 2016-10-31 Last updated: 2016-11-29Bibliographically approved

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Markidis, Stefano
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