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Formation of Electron Holes and Particle Energization During Magnetic Reconnection

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Science  07 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5608, pp. 873-877
DOI: 10.1126/science.1080333

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Abstract

Three-dimensional particle simulations of magnetic reconnection reveal the development of turbulence driven by intense electron beams that form near the magnetic x-line and separatrices. The turbulence collapses into localized three-dimensional nonlinear structures in which the electron density is depleted. The predicted structure of these electron holes compares favorably with satellite observations at Earth's magnetopause. The birth and death of these electron holes and their associated intense electric fields lead to strong electron scattering and energization, whose understanding is critical to explaining why magnetic explosions in space release energy so quickly and produce such a large number of energetic electrons.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: drake{at}plasma.umd.edu

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