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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 36, issue 3 | Copyright
Ann. Geophys., 36, 731-740, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-36-731-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Regular paper 16 May 2018

Regular paper | 16 May 2018

“Diffusion” region of magnetic reconnection: electron orbits and the phase space mixing

Alexey P. Kropotkin Alexey P. Kropotkin
  • Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

Abstract. The nonlinear dynamics of electrons in the vicinity of magnetic field neutral lines during magnetic reconnection, deep inside the diffusion region where the electron motion is nonadiabatic, has been numerically analyzed. Test particle orbits are examined in that vicinity, for a prescribed planar two-dimensional magnetic field configuration and with a prescribed uniform electric field in the neutral line direction. On electron orbits, a strong particle acceleration occurs due to the reconnection electric field. Local instability of orbits in the neighborhood of the neutral line is pointed out. It combines with finiteness of orbits due to particle trapping by the magnetic field, and this should lead to the effect of mixing in the phase space, and the appearance of dynamical chaos. The latter may presumably be viewed as a mechanism producing finite conductivity in collisionless plasma near the neutral line. That conductivity is necessary to provide violation of the magnetic field frozen-in condition, i.e., for magnetic reconnection to occur in that region.

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