In situ spacecraft observations of a structured electron diffusion region during magnetopause reconnection

Abstract : The Electron Diffusion Region (EDR) is the region where magnetic reconnection is initiated and electrons are energized. Because of experimental difficulties, the structure of the EDR is still poorly understood. A key question is whether the EDR has a homogeneous or patchy structure. Here we report Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) novel spacecraft observations providing evidence of inhomogeneous current densities and energy conversion over a few electron inertial lengths within an EDR at the terrestrial magnetopause, suggesting that the EDR can be rather structured. These inhomogenenities are revealed through multi-point measurements because the spacecraft separation is comparable to a few electron inertial lengths, allowing the entire MMS tetrahedron to be within the EDR most of the time. These observations are consistent with recent high-resolution and low-noise kinetic simulations.
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Giulia Cozzani, Alessandro Retinò, Francesco Califano, Alexandra Alexandrova, Olivier Le Contel, et al.. In situ spacecraft observations of a structured electron diffusion region during magnetopause reconnection. Physical Review E , American Physical Society (APS), 2019, 99 (4), pp.043204 (2019). ⟨10.1103/PhysRevE.99.043204⟩. ⟨hal-02108306⟩

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