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Electron Vorticity Indicative of the Electron Diffusion Region of Magnetic Reconnection.

  • Author(s): Hwang, K-J
  • Choi, E
  • Dokgo, K
  • Burch, JL
  • Sibeck, DG
  • Giles, BL
  • Goldstein, ML
  • Paterson, WR
  • Pollock, CJ
  • Shi, QQ
  • Fu, H
  • Hasegawa, H
  • Gershman, DJ
  • Khotyaintsev, Y
  • Torbert, RB
  • Ergun, RE
  • Dorelli, JC
  • Avanov, L
  • Russell, CT
  • Strangeway, RJ
  • et al.

While vorticity defined as the curl of the velocity has been broadly used in fluid and plasma physics, this quantity has been underutilized in space physics due to low time resolution observations. We report Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) observations of enhanced electron vorticity in the vicinity of the electron diffusion region of magnetic reconnection. On 11 July 2017 MMS traversed the magnetotail current sheet, observing tailward-to-earthward outflow reversal, current-carrying electron jets in the direction along the electron meandering motion or out-of-plane direction, agyrotropic electron distribution functions, and dissipative signatures. At the edge of the electron jets, the electron vorticity increased with magnitudes greater than the electron gyrofrequency. The out-of-plane velocity shear along distance from the current sheet leads to the enhanced vorticity. This, in turn, contributes to the magnetic field perturbations observed by MMS. These observations indicate that electron vorticity can act as a proxy for delineating the electron diffusion region of magnetic reconnection.

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