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Title: Electron heating during magnetic reconnection: A simulation scaling study

Electron bulk heating during magnetic reconnection with symmetric inflow conditions is examined using kinetic particle-in-cell simulations. Inflowing plasma parameters are varied over a wide range of conditions, and the increase in electron temperature is measured in the exhaust well downstream of the x-line. The degree of electron heating is well correlated with the inflowing Alfvén speed c{sub Ar} based on the reconnecting magnetic field through the relation ΔT{sub e}=0.033 m{sub i} c{sub Ar}{sup 2}, where ΔT{sub e} is the increase in electron temperature. For the range of simulations performed, the heating shows almost no correlation with inflow total temperature T{sub tot}=T{sub i}+T{sub e} or plasma β. An out-of-plane (guide) magnetic field of similar magnitude to the reconnecting field does not affect the total heating, but it does quench perpendicular heating, with almost all heating being in the parallel direction. These results are qualitatively consistent with a recent statistical survey of electron heating in the dayside magnetopause (Phan et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 4475, 2013), which also found that ΔT{sub e} was proportional to the inflowing Alfvén speed. The net electron heating varies very little with distance downstream of the x-line. The simulations show at most a very weak dependence of electronmore » heating on the ion to electron mass ratio. In the antiparallel reconnection case, the largely parallel heating is eventually isotropized downstream due a scattering mechanism, such as stochastic particle motion or instabilities. The simulation size is large enough to be directly relevant to reconnection in the Earth's magnetosphere, and the present findings may prove to be universal in nature with applications to the solar wind, the solar corona, and other astrophysical plasmas. The study highlights key properties that must be satisfied by an electron heating mechanism: (1) preferential heating in the parallel direction; (2) heating proportional to m{sub i} c{sub Ar}{sup 2}; (3) at most a weak dependence on electron mass; and (4) an exhaust electron temperature that varies little with distance from the x-line.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ; ;  [2] ; ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [1] ;  [5] ;  [6]
  1. Bartol Research Institute, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716 (United States)
  2. Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720 (United States)
  3. Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742 (United States)
  4. Department of Physics and Astronomy, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506 (United States)
  5. (United Kingdom)
  6. Department of Physics, Mahidol University, Bangkok 10400 (Thailand)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22407922
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Physics of Plasmas; Journal Volume: 21; Journal Issue: 12; Other Information: (c) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; 79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ASTROPHYSICS; DISTANCE; ELECTRON TEMPERATURE; MAGNETIC FIELDS; MAGNETIC RECONNECTION; MAGNETOPAUSE; PLASMA; PLASMA INSTABILITY; PLASMA SIMULATION; SCALING LAWS; SCATTERING; SOLAR CORONA; SOLAR WIND; SYMMETRY