Energy Transport during 3D Small-scale Reconnection Driven by Anisotropic Plasma Turbulence

Jeffersson A. Agudelo Rueda*, Daniel Verscharen, Robert T. Wicks, Christopher J. Owen, Georgios Nicolaou, Kai Germaschewski, Andrew P. Walsh, Ioannis Zouganelis, Santiago Vargas Domínguez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Abstract: Energy dissipation in collisionless plasmas is a long-standing fundamental physics problem. Although it is well known that magnetic reconnection and turbulence are coupled and transport energy from system-size scales to subproton scales, the details of the energy distribution and energy dissipation channels remain poorly understood. Especially, the energy transfer and transport associated with 3D small-scale reconnection that occurs as a consequence of a turbulent cascade is unknown. We use an explicit fully kinetic particle-in-cell code to simulate 3D small-scale magnetic reconnection events forming in anisotropic and decaying Alfvénic turbulence. We identify a highly dynamic and asymmetric reconnection event that involves two reconnecting flux ropes. We use a two-fluid approach based on the Boltzmann equation to study the spatial energy transfer associated with the reconnection event and compare the power density terms in the two-fluid energy equations with standard energy-based damping, heating, and dissipation proxies. Our findings suggest that the electron bulk flow transports thermal energy density more efficiently than kinetic energy density. Moreover, in our turbulent reconnection event, the energy density transfer is dominated by plasma compression. This is consistent with turbulent current sheets and turbulent reconnection events, but not with laminar reconnection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Number of pages17
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Volume938
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022

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