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Formation of a transient front structure near reconnection point in 3-D PIC simulations

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Massively parallel numerical simulations of magnetic reconnection are presented in this study. Electromagnetic full-particle implicit code iPIC3D is used to study the dynamics and 3-D evolution of reconnection outflows. Such features as Hall magnetic field, inflow and outflow, and diffusion region formation are very similar to 2-D particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations. In addition, it is well known that instabilities develop in the current flow direction or oblique directions. These modes could provide for anomalous resistivity and diffusive drag and can serve as additional proxies for magnetic reconnection. In our work, the unstable evolution of reconnection transient front structures is studied. Reconnection configuration in the absence of guide field is considered, and it is initialized with a localized perturbation aligned in the cross-tail direction. Our study suggests that the instabilities lead to the development of finger-like density structures on ion-electron hybrid scales. These structures are characterized by a rapid increase of the magnetic field, normal to the current sheet (Bz). A small decrease in the magnetic field component parallel to the reconnection X line and the component perpendicular to the current sheet is observed in the region ahead of the front. The instabilities form due to fact that the density gradient inside the front region is opposite to the direction of the acceleration Lorentz force. Such density structures may possibly further develop into larger-scale earthward flux transfer events during magnetotail reconnection. In addition, oscillations mainly in the magnetic and electric fields and the electron density are observed shortly before the arrival of the main front structure which is consistent with recent THEMIS observations.
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research
ISSN: 0148-0227
Issue: 4
Volume: 118
Pages: 1435 - 1449
Publication year:2013
BOF-keylabel:yes
IOF-keylabel:yes
BOF-publication weight:1
CSS-citation score:2
Authors:International
Authors from:Private, Higher Education