166 results found
Fargette N, Lavraud B, Øieroset M, et al., 2020, On the ubiquity of magnetic reconnection inside flux transfer event‐like structures at the earth's magnetopause, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 47, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 0094-8276
Flux transfer events (FTEs) are transient phenomena frequently observed at the Earth's magnetopause. Their usual interpretation is a flux rope moving away from the reconnection region. However, the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission revealed that magnetic reconnection sometimes occurs inside these structures, questioning their flux rope configuration. Here we investigate 229 FTE‐type structures and find reconnection signatures inside 19% of them. We analyze their large‐scale magnetic topology using electron heat flux and find that it is significantly different across the FTE reconnecting current sheets, demonstrating that they are constituted of two magnetically disconnected structures. We also find that the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) associated with reconnecting FTEs presents a strong By component. We discuss several formation mechanisms to explain these observations. In particular, the maximum magnetic shear model predicts that for large IMF By, two spatially distinct X lines coexist at the magnetopause. They can generate separate magnetic flux tubes that may become interlaced.
Haaland S, Paschmann G, Øieroset M, et al., 2020, Characteristics of the flank magnetopause: MMS results, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 125, Pages: 1-13, ISSN: 2169-9380
We have used a large number of magnetopause crossings by the Magnetospheric Multi Spacecraft (MMS) mission to investigate macroscopic properties of this current sheet, with emphasis on the flanks of the magnetopause. Macroscopic features such as thickness, location and motion of the magnetopause were calculated as a function of local time sector. The results show that the flanks of the magnetopause are significantly thicker than the dayside magnetopause. Thicknesses vary from about 650 km near noon to over 1000 km near the terminator. Current densities varies in a similar manner, with average current densities around noon almost twice as high as near the terminator. We also find a dawn‐dusk asymmetry in many of the macroscopic parameters; The dawn magnetopause is thicker than at dusk, while the dusk flank is more dynamic, with a higher average normal velocity.
Horbury T, Woolley T, Laker R, et al., 2020, Sharp Alfvenic impulses in the near-Sun solar wind, The Astrophysical Journal: an international review of astronomy and astronomical physics, Vol: 246, Pages: 1-8, ISSN: 0004-637X
Measurements of the near-Sun solar wind by Parker Solar Probe have revealed the presence of largenumbers of discrete Alfv ́enic impulses with an anti-Sunward sense of propagation. These are similarto those previously observed near 1 AU, in high speed streams over the Sun’s poles and at 60 solarradii. At 35 solar radii, however, they are typically shorter and sharper than seen elsewhere. Inaddition, these spikes occur in “patches” and there are also clear periods within the same stream whenthey do not occur; the timescale of these patches might be related to the rate at which the spacecraftmagnetic footpoint tracks across the coronal hole from which the plasma originated. While the velocityfluctuations associated with these spikes are typically under 100 km/s, due to the rather low Alfv ́enspeeds in the streams observed by the spacecraft to date, these are still associated with large angulardeflections of the magnetic field - and these deflections are not isotropic. These deflections do notappear to be related to the recently reported large scale, pro-rotation solar wind flow. Estimates ofthe size and shape of the spikes reveal high aspect ratio flow-aligned structures with a transverse scaleof≈104km. These events might be signatures of near-Sun impulsive reconnection events.
Phan TD, Bale SD, Eastwood JP, et al., 2020, Parker solar probe In situ observations of magnetic reconnection exhausts during encounter 1, The Astrophysical Journal Supplement, Vol: 246, Pages: 34-34, ISSN: 0067-0049
Magnetic reconnection in current sheets converts magnetic energy into particle energy. The process may play an important role in the acceleration and heating of the solar wind close to the Sun. Observations from Parker Solar Probe (PSP) provide a new opportunity to study this problem, as it measures the solar wind at unprecedented close distances to the Sun. During the first orbit, PSP encountered a large number of current sheets in the solar wind through perihelion at 35.7 solar radii. We performed a comprehensive survey of these current sheets and found evidence for 21 reconnection exhausts. These exhausts were observed in heliospheric current sheets, coronal mass ejections, and regular solar wind. However, we find that the majority of current sheets encountered around perihelion, where the magnetic field was strongest and plasma β was lowest, were Alfvénic structures associated with bursty radial jets, and these current sheets did not appear to be undergoing local reconnection. We examined conditions around current sheets to address why some current sheets reconnected while others did not. A key difference appears to be the degree of plasma velocity shear across the current sheets: the median velocity shear for the 21 reconnection exhausts was 24% of the Alfvén velocity shear, whereas the median shear across 43 Alfvénic current sheets examined was 71% of the Alfvén velocity shear. This finding could suggest that large, albeit sub-Alfvénic, velocity shears suppress reconnection. An alternative interpretation is that the Alfvénic current sheets are isolated rotational discontinuities that do not undergo local reconnection.
Escoubet CP, Hwang K-J, Toledo-Redondo S, et al., 2020, Cluster and MMS simultaneous observations of magnetosheath high speed jets and their impact on the magnetopause, Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, Vol: 6, Pages: 1-21, ISSN: 2296-987X
When the supersonic solar wind encounters the Earth's magnetosphere a shock, called bow shock, is formed and the plasma is decelerated and thermalized in the magnetosheath downstream from the shock. Sometimes, however, due to discontinuities in the solar wind, bow shock ripples or ionized dust clouds carried by the solar wind, high speed jets (HSJs) are observed in the magnetosheath. These HSJs have typically a Vx component larger than 200 km s−1 and their dynamic pressure can be a few times the solar wind dynamic pressure. They are typically observed downstream from the quasi-parallel bow shock and have a typical size around one Earth radius (RE) in XGSE. We use a conjunction of Cluster and MMS, crossing simultaneously the magnetopause, to study the characteristics of these HSJs and their impact on the magnetopause. Over 1 h 15 min interval in the magnetosheath, Cluster observed 21 HSJs. During the same period, MMS observed 12 HSJs and entered the magnetosphere several times. A jet was observed simultaneously by both MMS and Cluster and it is very likely that they were two distinct HSJs. This shows that HSJs are not localized into small regions but could span a region larger than 10 RE, especially when the quasi-parallel shock is covering the entire dayside magnetosphere under radial IMF. During this period, two and six magnetopause crossings were observed, respectively, on Cluster and MMS with a significant angle between the observation and the expected normal deduced from models. The angles observed range between from 11° up to 114°. One inbound magnetopause crossing observed by Cluster (magnetopause moving out at 142 km s−1) was observed simultaneous to an outbound magnetopause crossing observed by MMS (magnetopause moving in at −83 km s−1), showing that the magnetopause can have multiple local indentation places, most likely independent from each other. Under the continuous impacts of HSJs, the magnetopause is deformed significan
Gingell I, Schwartz SJ, Eastwood JP, et al., 2020, Statistics of reconnecting current sheets in the transition region of earth's bow shock, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 125, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 2169-9380
We have conducted a comprehensive survey of burst mode observations of Earth's bow shock by the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission to identify and characterize current sheets associated with collisionless shocks, with a focus on those containing fast electron outflows, a likely signature of magnetic reconnection. The survey demonstrates that these thin current sheets are observed within the transition region of approximately 40% of shocks within the burst mode data set of Magnetospheric Multiscale. With only small apparent bias toward quasi‐parallel shock orientations and high Alfvén Mach numbers, the results suggest that reconnection at shocks is a universal process, occurring across all shock orientations and Mach numbers. On examining the distributions of current sheet properties, we find no correlation between distance from the shock, sheet width, or electron jet speed, though the relationship between electron and ion jet speed supports expectations of electron‐only reconnection in the region. Furthermore, we find that robust heating statistics are not separable from background fluctuations, and thus, the primary consequence of reconnection at shocks is in relaxing the topology of the disordered magnetic field in the transition region.
Bale SD, Badman ST, Bonnell JW, et al., 2019, Highly structured slow solar wind emerging from an equatorial coronal hole, Nature, Vol: 576, Pages: 237-242, ISSN: 0028-0836
During the solar minimum, when the Sun is at its least active, the solar wind1,2 is observed at high latitudes as a predominantly fast (more than 500 kilometres per second), highly Alfvénic rarefied stream of plasma originating from deep within coronal holes. Closer to the ecliptic plane, the solar wind is interspersed with a more variable slow wind3 of less than 500 kilometres per second. The precise origins of the slow wind streams are less certain4; theories and observations suggest that they may originate at the tips of helmet streamers5,6, from interchange reconnection near coronal hole boundaries7,8, or within coronal holes with highly diverging magnetic fields9,10. The heating mechanism required to drive the solar wind is also unresolved, although candidate mechanisms include Alfvén-wave turbulence11,12, heating by reconnection in nanoflares13, ion cyclotron wave heating14 and acceleration by thermal gradients1. At a distance of one astronomical unit, the wind is mixed and evolved, and therefore much of the diagnostic structure of these sources and processes has been lost. Here we present observations from the Parker Solar Probe15 at 36 to 54 solar radii that show evidence of slow Alfvénic solar wind emerging from a small equatorial coronal hole. The measured magnetic field exhibits patches of large, intermittent reversals that are associated with jets of plasma and enhanced Poynting flux and that are interspersed in a smoother and less turbulent flow with a near-radial magnetic field. Furthermore, plasma-wave measurements suggest the existence of electron and ion velocity-space micro-instabilities10,16 that are associated with plasma heating and thermalization processes. Our measurements suggest that there is an impulsive mechanism associated with solar-wind energization and that micro-instabilities play a part in heating, and we provide evidence that low-latitude coronal holes are a key source of the slow solar wind.
Trenchi L, Coxon JC, Fear RC, et al., 2019, Signatures of magnetic separatrices at the borders of a crater flux transfer event connected to an active X‐line, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 124, Pages: 8600-8616, ISSN: 2169-9380
In this paper, we present Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) observations of a flux transfer event (FTE) characterized by a clear signature in the magnetic field magnitude, which shows maximum at the center flanked by two depressions, detected during a period of stable southward interplanetary magnetic field. This class of FTEs are called “crater‐FTEs” and have been suggested to be connected with active reconnection X line. The MMS burst mode data allow the identification of intense fluctuations in the components of the electric field and electron velocity parallel to the magnetic field at the borders of the FTE, which are interpreted as signatures of the magnetic separatrices. In particular, the strong and persistent fluctuations of the parallel electron velocity at the borders of this crater‐FTE reported for the first time in this paper, sustain the field‐aligned current part of the Hall current system along the separatrix layer, and confirm that this FTE is connected with an active reconnection X line. Our observations suggest a stratification of particles inside the reconnection layer, where electrons are flowing toward the X line along the separatrix, are flowing away from the X line along the reconnected field lines adjacent to the separatrices, and more internally ions and electrons are flowing away from the X line with comparable velocities, forming the reconnection jets. This stratification of the reconnection layer forming the FTE, together with the reconnection jet at the trailing edge of the FTE, suggests clearly that this FTE is formed by the single X line generation mechanism.
Krupar V, Magdalenic J, Eastwood JP, et al., 2019, Statistical survey of coronal mass ejections and interplanetary type II bursts, The Astrophysical Journal: an international review of astronomy and astronomical physics, Vol: 882, Pages: 1-5, ISSN: 0004-637X
Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are responsible for most severe space weather events, such as solar energetic particle events and geomagnetic storms at Earth. Type II radio bursts are slow drifting emissions produced by beams of suprathermal electrons accelerated at CME-driven shock waves propagating through the corona and interplanetary medium. Here, we report a statistical study of 153 interplanetary type II radio bursts observed by the two STEREO spacecraft between 2008 March and 2014 August. The shock associated radio emission was compared with CME parameters included in the Heliospheric Cataloguing, Analysis and Techniques Service catalog. We found that faster CMEs are statistically more likely to be associated with the interplanetary type II radio bursts. We correlate frequency drifts of interplanetary type II bursts with white-light observations to localize radio sources with respect to CMEs. Our results suggest that interplanetary type II bursts are more likely to have a source region situated closer to CME flanks than CME leading edge regions.
Poh G, Slavin JA, Lu S, et al., 2019, Dissipation of earthward propagating flux rope through re‐reconnection with geomagnetic field: An MMS case study, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 124, Pages: 7477-7493, ISSN: 2169-9380
Three‐dimensional global hybrid simulations and observations have shown that earthward‐moving flux ropes (FRs) can undergo magnetic reconnection (or re‐reconnection) with the near‐Earth dipole field to create dipolarization front (DF)‐like signatures that are immediately preceded by brief intervals of negative BZ. The simultaneous erosion of the southward BZ field at the leading edge of the FR and continuous reconnection of lobe magnetic flux at the X‐line tailward of the FR result in the asymmetric south‐north BZ signature in many earthward‐moving FRs and possibly DFs with negative BZ dips prior to their observation. In this study, we analyzed Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) observation of fields and plasma signatures associated with the encounter of an ion diffusion region ahead of an earthward‐moving FR on 3 August 2017. The signatures of this re‐reconnection event were (i) +/− BZ reversal, (ii) −/+ bipolar‐type quadrupolar Hall magnetic fields, (iii) northward super‐Alfvénic electron outflow jet of ~1,000–1,500 km/s, (iv) Hall electric field of ~15 mV/m, (v) intense currents of ~40–100 nA/m2, and (vi) J·E′ ~0.11 nW/m3. Our analysis suggests that the MMS spacecraft encounters the ion and electron diffusion regions but misses the X‐line. Our results are in good agreement with particle‐in‐cell simulations of Lu et al. (2016, https://doi.org/10.1002/2016JA022815). We computed a dimensionless reconnection rate of ~0.09 for this re‐reconnection event and through modeling, estimating that the FR would fully dissipate by −16.58 RE. We demonstrated pertubations in the high‐latitude ionospheric currents at the same time of the dissipation of earthward‐moving FRs using ground‐ and space‐based measurements.
Fadanelli S, Lavraud B, Califano F, et al., 2019, Four-spacecraft measurements of the shape and dimensionality of magnetic structures in the near-Earth plasma environment, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 124, Pages: 6850-6868, ISSN: 2169-9380
We present a new method for determining the main relevant features of the local magnetic field configuration, based entirely on the knowledge of the magnetic field gradient using four- spacecraft measurements. The method, named “Magnetic Configuration Analysis” (MCA), estimates the spatial scales on which the magnetic field varies locally. While it directly derives from the well-known Magnetic Directional Derivative (MDD) and Magnetic Rotational Analysis (MRA) procedures (Shi et al., 2005, doi:10.1029/2005GL022454; Shen et al., 2007, doi:10.1029/2005JA011584), MCA was specifically designed to address the actual magnetic field geometry. By applying MCA to multi-spacecraft data from the MMS satellites, we perform both case and statistical analyses of local magnetic field shape and dimensionality at very high cadence and small scales. We apply this technique to different near-Earth environments and define a classification scheme for the type of configuration observed. While our case studies allow us to benchmark the method with those used in past works, our statistical analysis unveils the typical shape of magnetic configurations and their statistical distributions. We show that small-scale magnetic configurations are generally elongated, displaying forms of cigar and blade shapes, but occasionally being planar in shape like thin pancakes (mostly inside current sheets). Magnetic configurations, however, rarely show isotropy in their magnetic variance. The planar nature of magnetic configurations and, most importantly, their scale lengths strongly depend on the plasma β parameter. Finally, the most invariant direction is statistically aligned with the electric current, reminiscent of the importance of electromagnetic forces in shaping the local magnetic configuration
AkhavanTafti M, Slavin JA, Eastwood JP, et al., 2019, MMS multi‐point analysis of FTE evolution: physical characteristics and dynamics, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 124, Pages: 5376-5395, ISSN: 2169-9380
Previous studies have indicated that flux transfer events (FTEs) grow as they convect away from the reconnection site along the magnetopause. This increase in FTE diameter may occur via adiabatic expansion in response to decreasing external pressure away from the subsolar region or due to a continuous supply of magnetic flux and plasma to the FTEs' outer layers by magnetic reconnection. Here we investigate an ensemble of 55 FTEs at the subsolar magnetopause using Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) multi‐point measurements. The FTEs are initially modeled as quasi‐force‐free flux ropes in order to infer their geometry and the spacecraft trajectory relative to their central axis. The MMS observations reveal a radially‐inward net force at the outer layers of FTEs which can accelerate plasmas and fields toward the FTE's core region. Inside the FTEs, near the central axis, plasma density is found to decrease as the axial net force increases. It is interpreted that the axial net force accelerates plasmas along the axis in the region of compressing field lines. Statistical analysis of the MMS observations of the 55 FTEs indicates that plasma pressure, Pth, decreases with increasing FTE diameter, λ, as Pth,obsv ∝ λ−0.24. Assuming that all 55 FTEs started out with similar diameters, this rate of plasma pressure decrease with increasing FTE diameter is at least an order of magnitude slower than the theoretical rate for adiabatic expansion (i.e., Pth,adiab. ∝ λ−3.3), suggesting the presence of efficient plasma heating mechanisms, such as magnetic reconnection, to facilitate FTE growth.
Good SW, Kilpua EKJ, LaMoury AT, et al., 2019, Self‐similarity of ICME flux ropes: Observations by radially aligned spacecraft in the inner Heliosphere, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 124, Pages: 4960-4982, ISSN: 2169-9380
Interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) are a significant feature of the heliospheric environment and the primary cause of adverse space weather at the Earth. ICME propagation and the evolution of ICME magnetic field structure during propagation are still not fully understood. We analyze the magnetic field structures of 18 ICME magnetic flux ropes observed by radially aligned spacecraft in the inner heliosphere. Similarity in the underlying flux rope structures is determined through the application of a simple technique that maps the magnetic field profile from one spacecraft to the other. In many cases, the flux ropes show very strong underlying similarities at the different spacecraft. The mapping technique reveals similarities that are not readily apparent in the unmapped data and is a useful tool when determining whether magnetic field time series observed at different spacecraft are associated with the same ICME. Lundquist fitting has been applied to the flux ropes, and the rope orientations have been determined; macroscale differences in the profiles at the aligned spacecraft may be ascribed to differences in flux rope orientation. Assuming that the same region of the ICME was observed by the aligned spacecraft in each case, the fitting indicates some weak tendency for the rope axes to reduce in inclination relative to the solar equatorial plane and to align with the solar east‐west direction with heliocentric distance.Plain Language SummaryCoronal mass ejections (CMEs) are large eruptions of magnetic field and plasma from the Sun. When they arrive at the Earth, these eruptions can cause significant damage to ground and orbital infrastructure; forecasting this “space weather” impact of CMEs at the Earth remains a difficult task. The impact of individual CMEs is largely dependent on their magnetic field configurations, and an important aspect of space weather forecasting is understanding how CME field configuration changes with distance from t
Stawarz J, Eastwood JP, Phan TD, et al., 2019, Properties of the turbulence associated with electron-only magnetic reconnection in Earth's magnetosheath, Letters of the Astrophysical Journal, Vol: 877, ISSN: 2041-8205
Turbulent plasmas generate intense current structures, which have long been suggested as magnetic reconnection sites. Recent Magnetospheric Multiscale observations in Earth's magnetosheath revealed a novel form of reconnection where the dynamics only couple to electrons, without ion involvement. It was suggested that such dynamics were driven by magnetosheath turbulence. In this study, the fluctuations are examined to determine the properties of the turbulence and if a signature of reconnection is present in the turbulence statistics. The study reveals statistical properties consistent with plasma turbulence with a correlation length of ~10 ion inertial lengths. When reconnection is more prevalent, a steepening of the magnetic spectrum occurs at the length scale of the reconnecting current sheets. The statistics of intense currents suggest the prevalence of electron-scale current sheets favorable for electron reconnection. The results support the hypothesis that electron reconnection is driven by turbulence and highlight diagnostics that may provide insight into reconnection in other turbulent plasmas.
Phan TD, Eastwood JP, Shay MA, et al., 2019, Publisher Correction: Electron magnetic reconnection without ion coupling in Earth's turbulent magnetosheath, Nature, Vol: 569, Pages: E9-E9, ISSN: 0028-0836
Change history: In this Letter, the y-axis values in Fig. 3f should go from 4 to -8 (rather than from 4 to -4), the y-axis values in Fig. 3h should appear next to the major tick marks (rather than the minor ticks), and in Fig. 1b, the arrows at the top and bottom of the electron-scale current sheet were going in the wrong direction; these errors have been corrected online.
Barnes D, Davies JA, Harrison RA, et al., 2019, CMEs in the heliosphere: II. A statistical analysis of the kinematic properties derived from single-spacecraft geometrical modelling techniques applied to CMEs detected in the heliosphere from 2007 to 2017 by STEREO/HI-1, Solar Physics, Vol: 294, ISSN: 0038-0938
Recent observations with the Heliospheric Imagers (HIs) onboard the twin NASA Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft have provided unprecedented observations of a large number of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in the inner heliosphere. In this article we discuss the generation of the HIGeoCAT CME catalogue and perform a statistical analysis of its events. The catalogue was generated as part of the EU FP7 HELCATS (Heliospheric Cataloguing, Analysis and Techniques Service) project ( www.helcats-fp7.eu/ ). It is created by generating time/elongation maps for CMEs using observations from the inner (HI-1) and outer (HI-2) cameras along a position angle close to the CME apex. Next, we apply single-spacecraft geometric-fitting techniques to determine the kinematic properties of these CMEs, including their speeds, propagation directions, and launch times. The catalogue contains a total of 1455 events (801 from STEREO-A and 654 from STEREO-B) from April 2007 to the end of August 2017. We perform a statistical analysis of the properties of CMEs in HIGeoCAT and compare the results with those from the Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) CDAW catalogues (Yashiro et al.J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys.109, A07105, 2004) and the COR-2 catalogue of Vourlidas et al. (Astrophys. J.838, 141, 2004) during the same period. We find that the distributions of both speeds and latitudes for the HIGeoCAT CMEs correlate with the sunspot number over the solar cycle. We also find that the HI-derived CME speed distributions are generally consistent with coronagraph catalogues over the solar cycle, albeit with greater absolute speeds due to the differing methods with which each is derived.
Hesse M, Norgren C, Tenfjord P, et al., 2019, Erratum: "On the role of separatrix instabilities in heating the reconnection outflow region" [Phys. Plasmas 25, 122902 (2018)], Physics of Plasmas, Vol: 26, ISSN: 1070-664X
In a recent paper1 about electron heating at the reconnection separatrix, two figures depicting the contributions to the electron energy balance and the contribution to the total, quasi-viscous heating are incorrectly displayed. The correct figures are as follows: [Table Presented].
Øieroset M, Phan TD, Drake JF, et al., 2019, Reconnection with magnetic flux pileup at the interface of converging jets at the magnetopause, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 46, Pages: 1937-1946, ISSN: 0094-8276
We report Magnetospheric Multiscale observations of reconnection in a thin current sheet at the interface of interlinked flux tubes carried by converging reconnection jets at Earth's magnetopause. The ion skin depth‐scale width of the interface current sheet and the non‐frozen‐in ions indicate that Magnetospheric Multiscale crossed the reconnection layer near the X‐line, through the ion diffusion region. Significant pileup of the reconnecting component of the magnetic field in this and three other events on approach to the interface current sheet was accompanied by an increase in magnetic shear and decrease in Δβ, leading to conditions favorable for reconnection at the interface current sheet. The pileup also led to enhanced available magnetic energy per particle and strong electron heating. The observations shed light on the evolution and energy release in 3‐D systems with multiple reconnection sites.
Gingell I, Schwartz SJ, Eastwood JP, et al., 2019, Observations of magnetic reconnection in the ransition region of quasi-parallel hocks, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 46, Pages: 1177-1184, ISSN: 0094-8276
Using observations of Earth's bow shock by the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, we show for the first time that active magnetic reconnection is occurring at current sheets embedded within the quasi‐parallel shock's transition layer. We observe an electron jet and heating but no ion response, suggesting we have observed an electron‐only mode. The lack of ion response is consistent with simulations showing reconnection onset on sub‐ion time scales. We also discuss the impact of electron heating in shocks via reconnection.
Nakamura R, Genestreti KJ, Nakamura T, et al., 2019, Structure of the current sheet in the 11 July 2017 Electron Diffusion Region Event, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 124, Pages: 1173-1186, ISSN: 2169-9380
The structure of the current sheet along the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) orbit is examined during the 11 July 2017 Electron Diffusion Region (EDR) event. The location of MMS relative to the X‐line is deduced and used to obtain the spatial changes in the electron parameters. The electron velocity gradient values are used to estimate the reconnection electric field sustained by nongyrotropic pressure. It is shown that the observations are consistent with theoretical expectations for an inner EDR in 2‐D reconnection. That is, the magnetic field gradient scale, where the electric field due to electron nongyrotropic pressure dominates, is comparable to the gyroscale of the thermal electrons at the edge of the inner EDR. Our approximation of the MMS observations using a steady state, quasi‐2‐D, tailward retreating X‐line was valid only for about 1.4 s. This suggests that the inner EDR is localized; that is, electron outflow jet braking takes place within an ion inertia scale from the X‐line. The existence of multiple events or current sheet processes outside the EDR may play an important role in the geometry of reconnection in the near‐Earth magnetotail.
Eastwood J, Hapgood MA, Biffis E, et al., 2019, Quantifying the economic value of space weather forecasting for power grids: An exploratory study, Space Weather, Vol: 16, Pages: 2052-2067, ISSN: 1539-4956
An accurate understanding of space weather socioeconomic impact is fundamental to the development of appropriate operational services, forecasting capabilities, and mitigation strategies. One way to approach this problem is by developing physics‐based models and frameworks that can lead to a bottom‐up estimate of risk and likely impact. Here we describe the development of a new framework to assess the economic impact of space weather on power distribution networks and the supply of electricity. In particular, we focus on the phenomenon of the geomagnetic substorm, which is relatively localized in time and space, and occurs multiple times with varying severity during a geomagnetic storm. The framework uses the AE index to characterize substorm severity, and the impact of the substorm is modulated by the resilience of the power grid and the nature of available forecast. Possible scenarios for substorm sequences during a 1‐in‐10‐, a 1‐in‐30‐, and a 1‐in‐100‐year geomagnetic storm events are generated based on the 2003, 1989, and 1859 geomagnetic storms. Economic impact, including international spill over, can then be calculated using standard techniques, based on the duration and the geographical footprint of the power outage. Illustrative calculations are made for the European sector, for a variety of forecast and resilience scenarios. However, currently available data are highly regionally inhomogeneous, frustrating attempts to define an overall global economic impact at the present time.
Torbert RB, Burch JL, Phan TD, et al., 2018, Electron-scale dynamics of the diffusion region during symmetric magnetic reconnection in space., Science, Vol: 362, Pages: 1391-1395
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.
Hesse M, Norgren C, Tenfjord P, et al., 2018, On the role of separatrix instabilities in heating the reconnection outflow region, Physics of Plasmas, Vol: 25, ISSN: 1070-664X
A study of the role microinstabilities at the reconnection separatrix can play in heating the electrons during the transition from inflow to outflow is being presented. We find that very strong flow shears at the separatrix layer lead to counterstreaming electron distributions in the region around the separatrix, which become unstable to a beam-type instability. Similar to what has been seen in earlier research, the ensuing instability leads to the formation of propagating electrostatic solitons. We show here that this region of strong electrostatic turbulence is the predominant electron heating site when transiting from inflow to outflow. The heating is the result of heating generated by electrostatic turbulence driven by overlapping beams, and its macroscopic effect is a quasi-viscous contribution to the overall electron energy balance. We suggest that instabilities at the separatrix can play a key role in the overall electron energy balance in magnetic reconnection.
Hwang KJ, Sibeck DG, Burch JL, et al., 2018, Small-scale flux transfer events formed in the reconnection exhaust region between two X lines, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 123, Pages: 8473-8488, ISSN: 2169-9380
We report MMS observations of the ion-scale flux transfer events (FTEs) that may involve two main X lines and tearing instability between the two X lines. The four spacecraft detected multiple isolated regions with enhanced magnetic field strength and bipolar Bn signatures normal to the nominal magnetopause, indicating FTEs. The currents within the FTEs flow mostly parallel to B, and the magnetic tension force is balanced by the total pressure gradient force. During these events, the plasma bulk flow velocity was directed southward. Detailed analysis of the magnetic and electric field and plasma moments variations suggests that the FTEs were initially embedded within the exhaust region north of an X line but were later located southward/downstream of a subsequent X line. The cross sections of the individual FTEs are in the range of ~2.5–6.8 ion inertial lengths. The observations suggest the formation of multiple secondary FTEs. The presence of an X line in the exhaust region southward of a second X line results from the southward drift of an old X line and the reformation of a new X line. The current layer between the two X lines is unstable to the tearing instability, generating multiple ion-scale flux-rope-type secondary islands.
Schwartz SJ, Avanov L, Turner D, et al., 2018, Ion kinetics in a hot flow anomaly: MMS observations, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 45, Pages: 11520-11529, ISSN: 0094-8276
Hot Flow Anomalies (HFAs) are transients observed at planetary bow shocks, formed by the shock interaction with a convected interplanetary current sheet. The primary interpretation relies on reflected ions channeled upstream along the current sheet. The short duration of HFAs has made direct observations of this process difficult. We employ high resolution measurements by NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission to probe the ion microphysics within a HFA. Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission data reveal a smoothly varying internal density and pressure, which increase toward the trailing edge of the HFA, sweeping up particles trapped within the current sheet. We find remnants of reflected or other backstreaming ions traveling along the current sheet, but most of these are not fast enough to out-run the incident current sheet convection. Despite the high level of internal turbulence, incident and backstreaming ions appear to couple gyro-kinetically in a coherent manner.
Stawarz JE, Eastwood JP, Genestreti KJ, et al., 2018, Intense electric fields and electron‐scale substructure within magnetotail flux ropes as revealed by the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 45, Pages: 8783-8792, ISSN: 0094-8276
Three flux ropes associated with near‐Earth magnetotail reconnection are analyzed using Magnetospheric Multiscale observations. The flux ropes are Earthward propagating with sizes from ∼3 to 11 ion inertial lengths. Significantly different axial orientations are observed, suggesting spatiotemporal variability in the reconnection and/or flux rope dynamics. An electron‐scale vortex, associated with one of the most intense electric fields (E) in the event, is observed within one of the flux ropes. This E is predominantly perpendicular to the magnetic field (B); the electron vortex is frozen‐in with E × B drifting electrons carrying perpendicular current and causing a small‐scale magnetic enhancement. The vortex is ∼16 electron gyroradii in size perpendicular to B and potentially elongated parallel to B. The need to decouple the frozen‐in vortical motion from the surrounding plasma implies a parallel E at the structure's ends. The formation of frozen‐in electron vortices within reconnection‐generated flux ropes may have implications for particle acceleration.
Eastwood J, Mistry R, Phan TD, et al., 2018, Guide field reconnection: exhaust structure and heating, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 45, Pages: 4569-4577, ISSN: 0094-8276
Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) observations are used to probe the structure and temperature profile of a guide field reconnection exhaust ~100 ion inertial lengths downstream from the X‐line in the Earth's magnetosheath. Asymmetric Hall electric and magnetic field signatures were detected, together with a density cavity confined near one edge of the exhaust and containing electron flow toward the X‐line. Electron holes were also detected both on the cavity edge and at the Hall magnetic field reversal. Predominantly parallel ion and electron heating was observed in the main exhaust but within the cavity, electron cooling and enhanced parallel ion heating was found. This is explained in terms of the parallel electric field, which inhibits electron mixing within the cavity on newly reconnected field lines, but accelerates ions. Consequently, guide field reconnection causes inhomogeneous changes in ion and electron temperature across the exhaust.
Phan TD, Eastwood JP, Shay MA, et al., 2018, Electron magnetic reconnection without ion coupling in Earth's turbulent magnetosheath, Nature, Vol: 557, Pages: 202-206, ISSN: 0028-0836
© 2018 Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature. 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 Alfvén 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-Alfvénic 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.
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