The inversion layer of electric fields and electron phase-space-hole structure during two-dimensional collisionless magnetic reconnection

Chen, Li-Jen; Daughton, William S.; Lefebvre, Bertrand; Torbert, Roy B.
January 2011
Physics of Plasmas;Jan2011, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p012904
Academic Journal
Based on two-dimensional fully kinetic simulations that resolve the electron diffusion layer in undriven collisionless magnetic reconnection with zero guide field, this paper reports the existence and evolution of an inversion layer of bipolar electric fields, its corresponding phase-space structure (an electron-hole layer), and the implication to collisionless dissipation. The inversion electric field layer is embedded in the layer of bipolar Hall electric field and extends throughout the entire length of the electron diffusion layer. The electron phase-space hole structure spontaneously arises during the explosive growth phase when there exist significant inflows into the reconnection layer, and electrons perform meandering orbits across the layer while being cyclotron-turned toward the outflow directions. The cyclotron turning of meandering electrons by the magnetic field normal to the reconnection layer is shown to be a primary factor limiting the current density in the region where the reconnection electric field is balanced by the gradient (along the current sheet normal) of the off-diagonal electron pressure-tensor.


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