Magnetic Reconnection in Turbulent Diluted Plasmas [CL]

We study magnetic reconnection events in a turbulent plasma within the two-fluid theory. By identifying the diffusive regions, we measure the reconnection rates as function of the conductivity and current sheet thickness. We have found that the reconnection rate scales as the squared of the inverse of the current sheet’s thickness and is independent of the aspect ratio of the diffusive region, in contrast to other analytical, e.g. the Sweet-Parker and Petscheck, and numerical models. Furthermore, while the reconnection rates are also proportional to the square inverse of the conductivity, the aspect ratios of the diffusive regions, which exhibit values in the range of $0.1-0.9$, are not correlated to the latter. Our findings suggest a new expression for the magnetic reconnection rate, which, after experimental verification, can provide a further understanding of the magnetic reconnection process.

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N. Offeddu and M. Mendoza
Mon, 6 Mar 17

Comments: 9 Pages, 6 figures


Predictions of solar coronal mass ejections with heliospheric imagers verified with the Heliophysics System Observatory [SSA]

We present a major step forward towards accurately predicting the arrivals of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) on the terrestrial planets, including the Earth. For the first time, we are able to assess a CME prediction model using data over almost a full solar cycle of observations with the Heliophysics System Observatory. We validate modeling results on 1337 CMEs observed with the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) heliospheric imagers (HI) with data from 8 years of observations by 5 spacecraft in situ in the solar wind, thereby gathering over 600 independent in situ CME detections. We use the self-similar expansion model for CME fronts assuming 60 degree longitudinal width, constant speed and constant propagation direction. Using these assumptions we find that 23%-35% of all CMEs that were predicted to hit a certain spacecraft lead to clear in situ signatures, so that for 1 correct prediction, 2 to 3 false alarms would have been issued. In addition, we find that the prediction accuracy of HI does not degrade with longitudinal separation from Earth. Arrival times are predicted on average within 2.6 +/- 16.6 hours difference to the in situ arrival time, similar to analytical and numerical modeling. We also discuss various factors that may improve the accuracy of space weather forecasting using wide-angle heliospheric imager observations. These results form a first order approximated baseline of the prediction accuracy that is possible with HI and other methods used for data by an operational space weather mission at the Sun-Earth L5 point.

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C. Mostl, A. Isavnin, P. Boakes, et. al.
Fri, 3 Mar 17

Comments: 22 pages, 7 figures, 1 table, submitted to the AGU journal Space Weather on 2 March 2017

Electron dynamics surrounding the X-line in asymmetric magnetic reconnection [CL]

Electron dynamics surrounding the X-line in magnetopause-type asymmetric reconnection is investigated using a two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulation. We study electron properties of three characteristic regions in the vicinity of the X-line. The fluid properties, velocity distribution functions (VDFs), and orbits are studied and cross-compared. In the low-$\beta$ side of the X-line, the normal electric field enhances the electron meandering motion from the high-$\beta$ side. The motion leads to a crescent-shaped component in the electron VDF, in agreement with recent studies. In the high-$\beta$ side of the X-line, the magnetic field line is so stretched in the third dimension that its curvature radius is comparable with typical electron Larmor radius. The electron motion becomes nonadiabatic, and therefore the electron idealness is no longer expected to hold. Around the middle of the outflow regions, the electron nonidealness is coincident with the region of the nonadiabatic motion. Finally, we introduce a finite-time mixing fraction (FTMF) to evaluate electron mixing. The FTMF marks the low-$\beta$ side of the X-line, where the nonideal energy dissipation occurs.

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S. Zenitani, H. Hasegawa and T. Nagai
Fri, 24 Feb 17

Comments: Comments are welcome

Chaos Control with Ion Propulsion [CL]

The escape dynamics around the triangular Lagrangian point L5 in the real Sun-Earth-Moon-Spacecraft system is investigated. Appearance of the finite time chaotic behaviour suggests that widely used methods and concepts of dynamical system theory can be useful in constructing a desired mission design. Existing chaos control methods are modified in such a way that we are able to protect a test particle from escape. We introduce initial condition maps in order to have a suitable numerical method to describe the motion in high dimensional phase space. Results show that the structure of initial condition maps can be split into two well-defined domains. One of these two parts has a regular contiguous shape and is responsible for long time escape; it is a long-lived island. The other one shows a filamentary fractal structure in initial condition maps. The short time escape is governed by this object. This study focuses on a low-cost method which successfully transfers a reference trajectory between these two regions using an appropriate continuous control force. A comparison of the Earth-Moon transfer is also presented to show the efficiency of our method.

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J. Sliz, T. Kovacs and A. Suli
Thu, 23 Feb 17

Comments: 14 pages, 11 figures, accepted for publication in Astronomische Nachrichten

Sheath-Accumulating Propagation of Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejection [SSA]

Fast interplanetary coronal mass ejections (interplanetary CMEs, or ICMEs) are the drivers of strongest space weather storms such as solar energetic particle events and geomagnetic storms. The connection between space weather impacting solar wind disturbances associated with fast ICMEs at Earth and the characteristics of causative energetic CMEs observed near the Sun is a key question in the study of space weather storms as well as in the development of practical space weather prediction. Such shock-driving fast ICMEs usually expand at supersonic speed during the propagation, resulting in the continuous accumulation of shocked sheath plasma ahead. In this paper, we propose the “sheath-accumulating propagation” (SAP) model that describe the coevolution of the interplanetary sheath and decelerating ICME ejecta by taking into account the process of upstream solar wind plasma accumulation within the sheath region. Based on the SAP model, we discussed (1) ICME deceleration characteristics, (2) the fundamental condition for fast ICME at Earth, (3) thickness of interplanetary sheath, (4) arrival time prediction and (5) the super-intense geomagnetic storms associated with huge solar flares. We quantitatively show that not only speed but also mass of the CME are crucial in discussing the above five points. The similarities and differences among the SAP model, the drag-based model and the`snow-plough’ model proposed by \citet{tappin2006} are also discussed.

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T. Takahashi and K. Shibata
Thu, 23 Feb 17

Comments: 20 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in ApJL

The Twist of the Draped Interstellar Magnetic Field Ahead of the Heliopause: A Magnetic Reconnection Driven Rotational Discontinuity [CL]

Based on the difference between the orientation of the interstellar $B_{ISM}$ and the solar magnetic fields, there was an expectation that the magnetic field direction would rotate dramatically across the heliopause (HP). However, the Voyager 1 spacecraft measured very little rotation across the HP. Previously we showed that the $B_{ISM}$ twists as it approaches the HP and acquires a strong T component (East-West). Here we establish that reconnection in the eastern flank of the heliosphere is responsible for the twist. On the eastern flank the solar magnetic field has twisted into the positive N direction and reconnects with the Southward pointing component of the $B_{ISM}$. Reconnection drives a rotational discontinuity (RD) that twists the $B_{ISM}$ into the -T direction and propagates upstream in the interstellar medium towards the nose. The consequence is that the N component of $B_{ISM}$ is reduced in a finite width band upstream of the HP. Voyager 1 currently measures angles ($\delta=sin^{-1}(B_{N}/B)$) close to solar values. We present MHD simulations to support this scenario, suppressing reconnection in the nose region while allowing it in the flanks, consistent with recent ideas about reconnection suppression from diamagnetic drifts. The jump in plasma $\beta$ (the plasma to magnetic pressure) across the nose of HP is much greater than in the flanks because the heliosheath $\beta$ is greater there than in the flanks. Large-scale reconnection is therefore suppressed in the nose but not at the flanks. Simulation data suggest that $B_{ISM}$ will return to its pristine value $10-15~AU$ past the HP.

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M. Opher, J. Drake, M. Swisdak, et. al.
Wed, 22 Feb 17

Comments: 19 pages, 5 figures, submitted

How Anomalous Resistivity Accelerates Magnetic Reconnection [CL]

Whether Turbulence-induced anomalous resistivity (AR) can facilitate a fast magnetic reconnection in collisionless plasma is a subject of active debate for decades. A particularly difficult problem in experimental and numerical simulation studies of the problem is how to distinguish the effects of AR from those originating from Hall-effect and other non-turbulent processes in the generalized Ohm’s. In this paper, using particle-in-cell simulations, we present a case study of how AR produced by Buneman Instability accelerates magnetic reconnection. We first show that in a thin current layer, the AR produced by Buneman instability spontaneously breaks the magnetic field lines and causes impulsive fast non-Hall magnetic line annihilation on electron-scales with a rate reaching 0.6~$V_A$. However, the electron-scale magnetic line annihilation is not a necessary condition for the dissipation of magnetic energy, but rather a result of the inhomogeneity of the AR. On the other hand, the inhomogeneous drag arising from a Buneman instability driven by the intense electron beams at the x-line in a 3D magnetic reconnection can drive in the electron diffusion region electron-scale magnetic line annihilation. The electron-scale annihilations play an essential role in accelerating the magnetic reconnection with a rate two times faster than the non-turbulent Hall-dominated 2D magnetic reconnection. The reconnection rate is enhanced around the x-line, and the coupling between the AR carried out by the reconnection outflow and the Hall effect leads to the breaking of the symmetric structure of the ion diffusion region and the enhancement of the outward Poynting flux.

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H. Che
Tue, 21 Feb 17

Comments: submitted to Physics of Plasma