Kinetic Equilibrium of Dipolarization Fronts
Journal Article - Open Access
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON United States
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The unprecedented high-resolution data from the Magnetospheric Multi-Scale MMS satellites is revealing the physics of dipolarization fronts created in the aftermath of magnetic reconnection in extraordinary detail. The data shows that the fronts contain structures on small spatial scales beyond the scope of fluid framework. A new kinetic analysis, applied to MMS data here, predicts that global plasma compression produces a unique particle distribution in a narrow boundary layer with separation of electron and ion scale physics. Layer widths on the order of an ion gyro-diameter lead to an ambipolar potential across the magnetic field resulting in strongly sheared flows. Gradients along the magnetic field lines create a potential difference, which can accelerate ions and electrons into beams. These small-scale kinetic effects determine the plasma dynamics in dipolarization fronts, including the origin of the distinctive broadband emissions.
- Electricity and Magnetism