Fast Cross‐Scale Energy Transfer During Turbulent Magnetic Reconnection

T. K. M. Nakamura, H. Hasegawa, K. J. Genestreti, R. E. Denton, T. D. Phan, J. E. Stawarz, R. Nakamura, W. D. Nystrom

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Magnetic reconnection is a key fundamental process in collisionless plasmas that explosively converts magnetic energy to plasma kinetic and thermal energies through a change of magnetic field topology in a central electron-scale region called the electron diffusion region (EDR). Past simulations and observations demonstrated that this process causes efficient energy conversion through the formation of multiple macro-scale or micro-scale magnetic islands/flux ropes. However, the coupling of these phenomena on different spatiotemporal scales is still poorly understood. Here, based on a new large-scale fully kinetic simulation with a realistic, initially fluctuating magnetic field, we demonstrate that macro-scale evolution of turbulent reconnection involving merging of macro-scale islands induces repeated, quick formation of new electron-scale islands within the EDR which soon grow to larger scales. This process causes an efficient cross-scale energy transfer from electron- to larger-scales, and leads to strong electron energization within the growing islands.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GL093524
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Early online date7 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


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