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Observations and simulations of non-local acceleration of electrons in magnetotail magnetic reconnection events

Observations and simulations of non-local acceleration of electrons in magnetotail magnetic reconnection events

Publication date: 30 January 2011

Authors: Ashour-Abdalla, M., et al.

Journal: Nature Physics
Volume: 7
Issue: 4
Page: 360-365
Year: 2011

Copyright: Nature Publishing Group

Magnetic reconnection in magnetized plasmas represents a change in magnetic field topology and is associated with a concomitant energization of charged particles that results from a conversion of magnetic energy into particle energy. In Earths magnetosphere this process is associated with the entry of the solar wind into the magnetosphere and with the initiation of auroral substorms. Using data from the THEMIS mission, together with global and test particle simulations, we demonstrate that electrons are energized in two distinct regions: a low-energy population (less than or equal to a few kiloelectronvolts) that arises in a diffusion region where particles are demagnetized and the magnetic topology changes, and a high-energy component (approaching 100 keV) that results from betatron acceleration within dipolarization fronts that sweep towards the inner magnetosphere far from the diffusion region. Thus, the observed particle energization is associated with both magnetic reconnection and with betatron acceleration associated with macroscopic flows.

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