Identification of Active Magnetic Reconnection Using Magnetic Flux Transport in Plasma Turbulence
Magnetic reconnection has been suggested to play an important role in the dynamics and energetics of plasma turbulence by spacecraft observations, simulations, and theory over the past two decades, and recently, by magnetosheath observations of MMS. A new method based on magnetic flux transport (MFT) has been developed to identify reconnection activity in turbulent plasmas. This method is applied to a gyrokinetic simulation of two-dimensional (2D) plasma turbulence. Results on the identification of three active reconnection X-points are reported. The first two X-points have developed bidirectional electron outflow jets. Beyond the category of electron-only reconnection, the third X-point does not have bidirectional electron outflow jets because the flow is modified by turbulence. In all cases, this method successfully identifies active reconnection through clear inward and outward flux transport around the X-points. This transport pattern defines reconnection and produces a new quadrupolar structure in the divergence of MFT. This method is expected to be applicable to spacecraft missions such as MMS, Parker Solar Probe, and Solar Orbiter.
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The Astrophysical Journal
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