In-plane electric fields in magnetic islands during collisionless magnetic reconnection

Li Jen Chen, William Daughton, Amitava Bhattacharjee, Roy B. Torbert, Vadim Roytershteyn, Naoki Bessho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Magnetic islands are a common feature in both the onset and nonlinear evolution of magnetic reconnection. In collisionless regimes, the onset typically occurs within ion-scale current layers leading to the formation of magnetic islands when multiple X lines are involved. The nonlinear evolution of reconnection often gives rise to extended electron current layers (ECL) which are also unstable to formation of magnetic islands. Here, we show that the excess negative charge and strong out-of-plane electron velocity in the ECL are passed on to the islands generated therein, and that the corresponding observable distinguishing the islands generated in the ECL is the strongly enhanced in-plane electric fields near the island core. The islands formed in ion-scale current layers do not have these properties of the ECL-generated islands. The above result provides a way to assess the occurrence and importance of extended ECLs that are unstable to island formation in space and laboratory plasmas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112902
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Volume19
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics

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