The heavy ion diffusion region in magnetic reconnection in the Earth's magnetotail

Academic Article


  • AbstractWhile the plasma in the Earth's magnetotail predominantly consists of protons and electrons, there are times when a significant amount of oxygen is present. When magnetic reconnection occurs, the behavior of these heavy ions can be significantly different from that of the protons, due to their larger gyroradius. In this study, we investigate the heavy ion distribution functions in the reconnection ion diffusion region from a 2.5D three‐species particle‐in‐cell numerical simulation and compare those with Cluster observations from the near‐Earth magnetotail. From the simulation results, we find that the heavy ions are demagnetized and accelerated in a larger diffusion region, the heavy ion diffusion region. The ion velocity distribution functions show that, inside the heavy ion diffusion region, heavy ions appear as counterstreaming beams along z in the GSM x‐z plane, while drifting in y, carrying cross‐tail current. We compare this result with Cluster observations in the vicinity of reconnection regions in the near‐Earth magnetotail and find that the simulation predictions are consistent with the observed ion distribution functions in the ion diffusion region, as well as the inflow, exhaust, and separatrix regions. Based on the simulation and observation results, the presence of a multiscale diffusion region model, for O+ abundant reconnection events in the Earth's magnetotail, is demonstrated. A test particle simulation shows that in the diffusion region, the H+ gains energy mainly through Ex, while the O+ energy gain comes equally from Ex and Ey.
  • Authors

  • Liu, YH
  • Mouikis, Christoforos
  • Kistler, Lynn
  • Wang, S
  • Roytershteyn, V
  • Karimabadi, H
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • May 2015
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 3535
  • End Page

  • 3551
  • Volume

  • 120
  • Issue

  • 5