• Particle simulations of magnetic field reconnection and applications to flux transfer events

      Ding, Da-Qing; Lee, L. C.; Akasofu, S-I; Hawkins, J. G.; Olson, J. V.; Swift, D. W. (1990)
      Basic plasma processes associated with driven collisionless magnetic reconnection at the Earth's dayside magnetopause are studied on the basis of particle simulations. A two-and-one-half-dimensional (2$1\over2$-D) electromagnetic particle simulation model with a driven inflow boundary and an open outflow boundary is developed for the present study. The driven inflow boundary is featured with a driving electric field for the vector potential, while the open outflow boundary is characterized by a vacuum force free condition for the electrostatic potential. The major findings are as follows. (1) The simulations exhibit both quasi-steady single X-line reconnection (SXR) and intermittent multiple X line reconnection (MXR). The MXR process is characterized by repeated formation and convection of magnetic islands (flux tubes or plasmoids). (2) Particle acceleration in the MXR process occurs mainly in O line regions as particles are trapped within magnetic islands, not in X line regions. The MXR process results in a power law particle energy spectrum of $f(E)\sim E\sp{-4}$. (3) Field-aligned particle heat fluxes and intense plasma waves associated with the collisionless magnetic reconnection process are also observed. (4) When applied to the dayside magnetopause, simulation results show that the MXR process tends to generate a simultaneous magnetic field perturbation on both sides of the dayside magnetopause, resembling the observed features of two-regime flux transfer events (FTEs). (5) An intrusion of magnetosheath plasma bulge into the magnetosphere due to the formation of magnetic islands may lead to the layered structures observed in magnetospheric FTEs. (6) In the current sheet, the enhanced tearing mode instability caused by the driving force applied at the driven inflow boundary creates an energy source at a specific wavenumber range with $k\sb{z}L\sim$ 0.3 in the modal spectrum of the magnetic field $B\sb{x}$ component. An inverse cascade of the modal spectrum of $B\sb{x}$ leads to the formation of the large-scale ordered magnetic island structures observed in the simulations. (7) In addition, the results of a theoretical study show that the tearing mode instability, and hence the magnetic reconnection at the dayside magnetopause, do not exhibit strong dependence on the magnetosheath $\beta$ values.