Wed, 02/22/2017 -
3:00pm to 4:00pm
Morse 301
Space Science Seminar
Matthew Argall, UNH

Kinetic Effects Associated with Magnetic Reconnection: Crescent-Shaped Electron Distribution Functions and Wave-Particle Interactions

Abstract: Magnetic reconnection involves the conversion of electromagnetic energy into particle kinetic energy. This energy conversion begins at the electron scale, which was largely inaccessible to direct satellite observations before the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission. MMS, launched in March, 2015, consists of four satellites in a tetrahedron formation with mean separation of as little as 7 km, or 2-3 electron skin depths at the magnetopause. It captures full 3D distribution functions of ions every 150ms and of electrons every 30ms. This has allowed us to probe electron dynamics in the heart of the reconnection region with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. In this talk, I will discuss two kinetic processes related to reconnection: the formation of crescent shapes in electron distribution functions within the diffusion region, and wave-particle interactions within the outflow and separatrix regions. The outline of the talk is: an introduction to the MMS mission, an overview of reconnection, a brief review of the first observations of the electron diffusion region, followed by details of the microphysics of reconnection: crescent-shaped distributions and wave-particle interactions.