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Magnetotail reconnection onset caused by electron kinetics with a strong external driver.

  • Author(s): Lu, San
  • Wang, Rongsheng
  • Lu, Quanming
  • Angelopoulos, V
  • Nakamura, R
  • Artemyev, AV
  • Pritchett, PL
  • Liu, TZ
  • Zhang, X-J
  • Baumjohann, W
  • Gonzalez, W
  • Rager, AC
  • Torbert, RB
  • Giles, BL
  • Gershman, DJ
  • Russell, CT
  • Strangeway, RJ
  • Qi, Y
  • Ergun, RE
  • Lindqvist, P-A
  • Burch, JL
  • Wang, Shui
  • et al.
Abstract

Magnetotail reconnection plays a crucial role in explosive energy conversion in geospace. Because of the lack of in-situ spacecraft observations, the onset mechanism of magnetotail reconnection, however, has been controversial for decades. The key question is whether magnetotail reconnection is externally driven to occur first on electron scales or spontaneously arising from an unstable configuration on ion scales. Here, we show, using spacecraft observations and particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations, that magnetotail reconnection starts from electron reconnection in the presence of a strong external driver. Our PIC simulations show that this electron reconnection then develops into ion reconnection. These results provide direct evidence for magnetotail reconnection onset caused by electron kinetics with a strong external driver.

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