Characterizing velocity-space signatures of electron energization in large-guide-field collisionless magnetic reconnection

Andrew J. McCubbin, Gregory G. Howes, Jason M. Tenbarge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Magnetic reconnection plays an important role in the release of magnetic energy and consequent energization of particles in collisionless plasmas. Energy transfer in collisionless magnetic reconnection is inherently a two-step process: reversible, collisionless energization of particles by the electric field, followed by collisional thermalization of that energy, leading to irreversible plasma heating. Gyrokinetic numerical simulations are used to explore the first step of electron energization, and we generate the first examples of field-particle correlation signatures of electron energization in 2D strong-guide-field collisionless magnetic reconnection. We determine these velocity space signatures at the x-point and in the exhaust, the regions of the reconnection geometry in which the electron energization primarily occurs. Modeling of these velocity-space signatures shows that, in the strong-guide-field limit, the energization of electrons occurs through bulk acceleration of the out-of-plane electron flow by the parallel electric field that drives the reconnection, a non-resonant mechanism of energization. We explore the variation of these velocity-space signatures over the plasma beta range 0.01 ≤ β i ≤ 1. Our analysis goes beyond the fluid picture of the plasma dynamics and exploits the kinetic features of electron energization in the exhaust region to propose a single-point diagnostic, which can potentially identify a reconnection exhaust region using spacecraft observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number052105
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics

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