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Electron magnetic reconnection without ion coupling in Earth's turbulent magnetosheath
Univ Calif Berkeley, Space Sci Lab, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA..
Imperial Coll London, Blackett Lab, London, England..
Univ Delaware, Newark, DE USA..
Univ Maryland, College Pk, MD 20742 USA..
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2018 (English)In: Nature, ISSN 0028-0836, E-ISSN 1476-4687, Vol. 557, no 7704, p. 202-+Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Magnetic reconnection in current sheets is a magnetic-to-particle energy conversion process that is fundamental to many space and laboratory plasma systems. In the standard model of reconnection, this process occurs in a minuscule electron-scale diffusion region(1,2). On larger scales, ions couple to the newly reconnected magnetic-field lines and are ejected away from the diffusion region in the form of bi-directional ion jets at the ion Alfven speed(3-5). Much of the energy conversion occurs in spatially extended ion exhausts downstream of the diffusion region(6). In turbulent plasmas, which contain a large number of small-scale current sheets, reconnection has long been suggested to have a major role in the dissipation of turbulent energy at kinetic scales(7-11). However, evidence for reconnection plasma jetting in small-scale turbulent plasmas has so far been lacking. Here we report observations made in Earth's turbulent magnetosheath region (downstream of the bow shock) of an electron-scale current sheet in which diverging bi-directional super-ion-Alfvenic electron jets, parallel electric fields and enhanced magnetic-to-particle energy conversion were detected. Contrary to the standard model of reconnection, the thin reconnecting current sheet was not embedded in a wider ion-scale current layer and no ion jets were detected. Observations of this and other similar, but unidirectional, electron jet events without signatures of ion reconnection reveal a form of reconnection that can drive turbulent energy transfer and dissipation in electron-scale current sheets without ion coupling.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP , 2018. Vol. 557, no 7704, p. 202-+
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
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URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-228425DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0091-5ISI: 000431775100042PubMedID: 29743689Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85046625072OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-228425DiVA, id: diva2:1210762
Note

QC 20180529

Available from: 2018-05-29 Created: 2018-05-29 Last updated: 2018-05-29Bibliographically approved

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Lindqvist, Per-Arne

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