Lower-Hybrid-Drift Vortices in the Electron-Scale Magnetic Reconnection Layer
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Type of Work8 pages
Citation of Original PublicationNg, Jonathan et al.; Lower-Hybrid-Drift Vortices in the Electron-Scale Magnetic Reconnection Layer; Geophysical Research Letters, 47, 22, 10 November, 2020; https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL090726
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This work was written as part of one of the author's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.
Abstract Lower-hybrid-drift waves driving vortical flows have recently been discovered in the electron current layer during magnetic reconnection in the terrestrial magnetotail. Yet, spacecraft measurements cannot address how pervasive the waves are. We perform three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations of guide field reconnection to demonstrate that electron vortices driven by the lower-hybrid-drift instability (LHDI) are excited immediately downstream from the electron jet reversal in 3-D channels of enhanced electron outflow. The resulting fluctuations generate a series of alternating vortices, producing magnetic field perturbations opposing and enhancing the local guide field and causing kinking of the enhanced electron outflow and patches of increased current. Our results demonstrate for the first time that LHDI exists in the electron current layer and enhanced outflow channels, providing a conceptual breakthrough on the LHDI in reconnection. Plain Language Summary Lower-hybrid-drift waves have been discovered in the electron-scale reconnection layer by the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission in the Earth's magnetotail. These waves drive vortical electron flows and modify the magnetic field along the reconnection current. We perform fully kinetic simulations which demonstrate how these waves can be generated and their effects on the electron dynamics and magnetic fields in the reconnection region.
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