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Title: PARTICLE ACCELERATION AND HEATING BY TURBULENT RECONNECTION

Abstract

Turbulent flows in the solar wind, large-scale current sheets, multiple current sheets, and shock waves lead to the formation of environments in which a dense network of current sheets is established and sustains “turbulent reconnection.” We constructed a 2D grid on which a number of randomly chosen grid points are acting as scatterers (i.e., magnetic clouds or current sheets). Our goal is to examine how test particles respond inside this large-scale collection of scatterers. We study the energy gain of individual particles, the evolution of their energy distribution, and their escape time distribution. We have developed a new method to estimate the transport coefficients from the dynamics of the interaction of the particles with the scatterers. Replacing the “magnetic clouds” with current sheets, we have proven that the energization processes can be more efficient depending on the strength of the effective electric fields inside the current sheets and their statistical properties. Using the estimated transport coefficients and solving the Fokker–Planck (FP) equation, we can recover the energy distribution of the particles only for the stochastic Fermi process. We have shown that the evolution of the particles inside a turbulent reconnecting volume is not a solution of the FP equation, sincemore » the interaction of the particles with the current sheets is “anomalous,” in contrast to the case of the second-order Fermi process.« less

Authors:
; ; ;  [1];  [2]
  1. Department of Physics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, GR-52124 Thessaloniki (Greece)
  2. Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing, National Observatory of Athens, GR-15236 Penteli (Greece)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22654257
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 827; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCELERATION; COMPUTERIZED SIMULATION; DIFFUSION; DISTRIBUTION; ELECTRIC FIELDS; ENERGY SPECTRA; EVOLUTION; FOKKER-PLANCK EQUATION; HEATING; INTERACTIONS; MAGNETIC RECONNECTION; MATHEMATICAL SOLUTIONS; PARTICLES; RANDOMNESS; SHOCK WAVES; SOLAR WIND; STOCHASTIC PROCESSES; SUN; TURBULENCE; TURBULENT FLOW

Citation Formats

Vlahos, Loukas, Pisokas, Theophilos, Isliker, Heinz, Tsiolis, Vassilis, and Anastasiadis, Anastasios. PARTICLE ACCELERATION AND HEATING BY TURBULENT RECONNECTION. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/827/1/L3.
Vlahos, Loukas, Pisokas, Theophilos, Isliker, Heinz, Tsiolis, Vassilis, & Anastasiadis, Anastasios. PARTICLE ACCELERATION AND HEATING BY TURBULENT RECONNECTION. United States. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/827/1/L3.
Vlahos, Loukas, Pisokas, Theophilos, Isliker, Heinz, Tsiolis, Vassilis, and Anastasiadis, Anastasios. Wed . "PARTICLE ACCELERATION AND HEATING BY TURBULENT RECONNECTION". United States. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/827/1/L3.
@article{osti_22654257,
title = {PARTICLE ACCELERATION AND HEATING BY TURBULENT RECONNECTION},
author = {Vlahos, Loukas and Pisokas, Theophilos and Isliker, Heinz and Tsiolis, Vassilis and Anastasiadis, Anastasios},
abstractNote = {Turbulent flows in the solar wind, large-scale current sheets, multiple current sheets, and shock waves lead to the formation of environments in which a dense network of current sheets is established and sustains “turbulent reconnection.” We constructed a 2D grid on which a number of randomly chosen grid points are acting as scatterers (i.e., magnetic clouds or current sheets). Our goal is to examine how test particles respond inside this large-scale collection of scatterers. We study the energy gain of individual particles, the evolution of their energy distribution, and their escape time distribution. We have developed a new method to estimate the transport coefficients from the dynamics of the interaction of the particles with the scatterers. Replacing the “magnetic clouds” with current sheets, we have proven that the energization processes can be more efficient depending on the strength of the effective electric fields inside the current sheets and their statistical properties. Using the estimated transport coefficients and solving the Fokker–Planck (FP) equation, we can recover the energy distribution of the particles only for the stochastic Fermi process. We have shown that the evolution of the particles inside a turbulent reconnecting volume is not a solution of the FP equation, since the interaction of the particles with the current sheets is “anomalous,” in contrast to the case of the second-order Fermi process.},
doi = {10.3847/2041-8205/827/1/L3},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal Letters},
number = 1,
volume = 827,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Aug 10 00:00:00 EDT 2016},
month = {Wed Aug 10 00:00:00 EDT 2016}
}
  • We consider a large-scale environment of turbulent reconnection that is fragmented into a number of randomly distributed unstable current sheets (UCSs), and we statistically analyze the acceleration of particles within this environment. We address two important cases of acceleration mechanisms when particles interact with the UCS: (a) electric field acceleration and (b) acceleration by reflection at contracting islands. Electrons and ions are accelerated very efficiently, attaining an energy distribution of power-law shape with an index 1–2, depending on the acceleration mechanism. The transport coefficients in energy space are estimated from test-particle simulation data, and we show that the classical Fokker–Planckmore » (FP) equation fails to reproduce the simulation results when the transport coefficients are inserted into it and it is solved numerically. The cause for this failure is that the particles perform Levy flights in energy space, while the distributions of the energy increments exhibit power-law tails. We then use the fractional transport equation (FTE) derived by Isliker et al., whose parameters and the order of the fractional derivatives are inferred from the simulation data, and solving the FTE numerically, we show that the FTE successfully reproduces the kinetic energy distribution of the test particles. We discuss in detail the analysis of the simulation data and the criteria that allow one to judge the appropriateness of either an FTE or a classical FP equation as a transport model.« less
  • Where particle acceleration and plasma heating take place in relation to magnetic reconnection is a fundamental question for solar flares. We report analysis of an M7.7 flare on 2012 July 19 observed by SDO/AIA and RHESSI. Bi-directional outflows in forms of plasmoid ejections and contracting cusp-shaped loops originate between an erupting flux rope and underlying flare loops at speeds of typically 200-300 km s{sup -1} up to 1050 km s{sup -1}. These outflows are associated with spatially separated double coronal X-ray sources with centroid separation decreasing with energy. The highest temperature is located near the nonthermal X-ray loop-top source wellmore » below the original heights of contracting cusps near the inferred reconnection site. These observations suggest that the primary loci of particle acceleration and plasma heating are in the reconnection outflow regions, rather than the reconnection site itself. In addition, there is an initial ascent of the X-ray and EUV loop-top source prior to its recently recognized descent, which we ascribe to the interplay among multiple processes including the upward development of reconnection and the downward contractions of reconnected loops. The impulsive phase onset is delayed by 10 minutes from the start of the descent, but coincides with the rapid speed increases of the upward plasmoids, the individual loop shrinkages, and the overall loop-top descent, suggestive of an intimate relation of the energy release rate and reconnection outflow speed.« less
  • Bulk ion acceleration and particle heating during magnetic reconnection are studied in the collisionless plasma of the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX). The plasma is in the two-fluid regime, where the motion of the ions is decoupled from that of the electrons within the ion diffusion region. The reconnection process studied here is quasi-symmetric since plasma parameters such as the magnitude of the reconnecting magnetic field, the plasma density, and temperature are compatible on each side of the current sheet. Our experimental data show that the in-plane (Hall) electric field plays a key role in ion heating and acceleration. The electrostaticmore » potential that produces the in-plane electric field is established by electrons that are accelerated near the electron diffusion region. The in-plane profile of this electrostatic potential shows a “well” structure along the direction normal to the reconnection current sheet. This well becomes deeper and wider downstream as its boundary expands along the separatrices where the in-plane electric field is strongest. Since the in-plane electric field is 3–4 times larger than the out-of-plane reconnection electric field, it is the primary source of energy for the unmagnetized ions. With regard to ion acceleration, the Hall electric field causes ions near separatrices to be ballistically accelerated toward the outflow direction. Ion heating occurs as the accelerated ions travel into the high pressure downstream region. This downstream ion heating cannot be explained by classical, unmagnetized transport theory; instead, we conclude that ions are heated by re-magnetization of ions in the reconnection exhaust and collisions. Two-dimensional (2-D) simulations with the global geometry similar to MRX demonstrate downstream ion thermalization by the above mechanisms. Electrons are also significantly heated during reconnection. The electron temperature sharply increases across the separatrices and peaks just outside of the electron diffusion region. Unlike ions, electrons acquire energy mostly from the reconnection electric field, and the energy gain is localized near the X-point. However, the increase in the electron bulk flow energy remains negligible. These observations support the assertion that efficient electron heating mechanisms exist around the electron diffusion region and that the heat generated there is quickly transported along the magnetic field due to the high parallel thermal conductivity of electrons. Classical Ohmic dissipation based on the perpendicular Spitzer resistivity is too small to balance the measured heat flux, indicating the presence of anomalous electron heating.« less
  • Electron and proton acceleration in three-dimensional electric and magnetic fields is studied through test particle simulations. The fields are obtained by a three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulation of magnetic reconnection in slab geometry. The nonlinear evolution of the system is characterized by the growth of many unstable modes and the initial current sheet is fragmented with formation of small scale structures. We inject at random points inside the evolving current sheet a Maxwellian distribution of particles. In a relatively short time (less than a millisecond) the particles develop a power-law tail. The acceleration is extremely efficient and the electrons absorb a largemore » percentage of the available energy in a small fraction of the characteristic time of the MHD simulation, suggesting that resistive MHD codes are unable to represent the full extent of particle acceleration.« less