Electron-Only Reconnection in Plasma Turbulence

Francesco Califano, Silvio Sergio Cerri, Matteo Faganello, Dimitri Laveder, Manuela Sisti, Matthew W. Kunz

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29 Scopus citations


Hybrid-Vlasov–Maxwell simulations of magnetized plasma turbulence including non-linear electron-inertia effects in a generalized Ohm's law are presented. When fluctuation energy is injected on scales sufficiently close to ion-kinetic scales, the ions efficiently become de-magnetized and electron-scale current sheets largely dominate the distribution of the emerging current structures, in contrast to the usual picture, where a full hierarchy of structure sizes is generally observed. These current sheets are shown to be the sites of electron-only reconnection (e-rec), in which the usual electron exhausts are unaccompanied by ion outflows and which are in qualitative agreement with those recently observed by MMS in the Earth's turbulent magnetosheath, downstream of the bow shock. Some features of the e-rec phenomenology are shown to be consistent with an electron magnetohydrodynamic description. Simulations suggest that this regime of collisionless reconnection may be found in turbulent systems where plasma processes, such as micro-instabilities and/or shocks, overpower the more customary turbulent cascade by directly injecting energy close to the ion-kinetic scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number317
JournalFrontiers in Physics
StatePublished - Sep 4 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Mathematical Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


  • Earth magnetosheath
  • magnetic fields
  • magnetic reconnection
  • plasma simulations
  • plasma turbulence
  • solar wind


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