Direct Evidence of Magnetic Reconnection Onset via the Tearing Instability

Bakrania, Mayur R., Rae, Jonathan, Walsh, Andrew P., Verscharen, Daniel, Smith, Andy W., Forsyth, Colin and Tenerani, Anna (2022) Direct Evidence of Magnetic Reconnection Onset via the Tearing Instability. Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, 9. p. 869491. ISSN 2296-987X

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Magnetic reconnection is a sporadic process responsible for energy release in space and laboratory plasmas. It is believed that the tearing mode instability may be responsible for the onset of reconnection in the magnetotail. However, due to its elusive nature, there is an absence of in-situ observations of the tearing instability prior to magnetic reconnection in our nearest natural plasma laboratory. Using neural network outlier detection methods in conjunction with Cluster spacecraft data, we find unique electron pitch angle distributions that are consistent with simulation predictions of the tearing instability and the subsequent evolution of plasma electrons and reconnection. We evaluate tearing stability criterion for the events identified via our neural network outlier method, and find signatures of magnetic reconnection minutes after the majority of tearing observations. Our analysis of the tearing instability provides new insights into the fundamental understanding of the mechanism responsible for reconnection, a process that is ubiquitous in different astrophysical plasma regimes across the Universe and in laboratory experiments on Earth.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: MB is supported by a UCL Impact Studentship, joint funded by the ESA NPI programme. IR the STFC Consolidated Grant ST/S000240/1 and the NERC grants NE/P017150/1, NE/P017185/1, NE/V002554/1, and NE/V002724/1. DV is supported by the STFC Consolidated Grant ST/S000240/1 and the STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship ST/P003826/1. AS is supported by the STFC Consolidated Grant ST/S000240/1 and by NERC grants NE/P017150/1 and NE/V002724/1. CF is supported by NERC Independent Research Fellowship NE/N014480/1, NERC grants NE/V002724/1, NE/V002554/2, NE/P017185/2 and NE/P017150/1 and STFC Consolidated Grant ST/S000240/1. IR is supported by STFC grant ST/V006320/1 and NERC grants NE/P017150/1, NE/P017185/2, NE/V002554/2, and NE/V002724/1.
Uncontrolled Keywords: space plasma environments, magnetic reconnection, tearing instability, neural network techniques, outlier detection
Subjects: F300 Physics
F500 Astronomy
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2022 11:03
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2022 11:15

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