Simulation of Electron Diffusion Region processes in magnetospheric current layers with the new semi-implicit adaptive Multi Level Multi Domain method

Monday, 15 December 2014
Maria Elena Innocenti, KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium, Arnaud Beck, Laboratoire Leprince-Ringuet, Ecole Polytechnique, CNRS-IN2P3, France, Stefano Markidis, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden and Giovanni Lapenta, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Magnetic reconnection is the magnetosphere is characterized by the complex interplay of microscopic and macroscopic scale: processes originating at the electron scales may eventually produce noticeable effects at the macroscopic scales also. A suitable example is the acceleration of electron jets to electron Alfvén speed in the inner Electron Diffusion Region (EDR) (Drake08): the accelerated electrons then evolve into an outer EDR with length of the order of the ion skin depth (Karimabadi07).
This same example highlights the challenges entailed in numerical simulations of magnetic reconnection. Large domains have to be simulated to appreciate the large scale reconnection dynamics, but at the same time electron scale resolution has to be used, at least locally, to allow microscale processes to develop. This dramatically increases the computational costs of simulations, especially if a realistic mass ratio between the particle species is used. 
We show here simulations of large domain magnetic reconnection processes with electron scale resolution. These simulations are made possible at a moderate computational cost by the use of the newly developed semi-implicit Multi Level Multi Domain method (Innocenti13, Beck13), which combines the advantages of implicit algorithms (Vu92) and adaptivity. 
With the MLMD method, a domain larger than the Ion Diffusion Region is simulated with realistic mass ratio and with ion scale resolution. The EDR is then simulated also with higher spatial and temporal resolution, to allow electron scale, faster processes to develop there. Since electron scale resolution is used only in a small part of the total domain, the computational cost of MLMD simulations is dramatically lowered with respect to fully resolved simulations. Comparable levels of physical details is delivered (Innocenti14, submitted). To prove this, we show here that the MLMD method can capture characteristic EDR electron scale processes such as the formation of an inversion layer in the Hall electric field (Chen11) and the already mentioned acceleration of electron jets departing from the EDR to velocities of the order of the electron Alfvén speed vA,e ≈vA √mr, where vA is the Alfvén speed and mr the mass ratio.