An Investigation of Perpendicular Gradients of Parallel Electric Field Associated with Magnetic Reconnection

Monday, 15 December 2014
Andrew Paul Sturner1, Robert Ergun1, David L Newman1 and Giovanni Lapenta2, (1)Univ Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Many observations of particle heating and acceleration throughout the universe have been associated with magnetic reconnection. Generalized Ohm's Law describes how particles move under ideal and non-ideal conditions; however, it is insufficient for describing how the magnetic field itself changes. Initial studies have shown that a curl of a parallel electric field is necessary for reconnection to occur. These analytic studies have demonstrated that perpendicular gradients in the parallel electric field drive a counter-twisting of the magnetic field on either side of the localized parallel electric field. This results in the slippage of magnetic flux tubes and a break down of the 'frozen-in' condition. In this presentation, we analyze results from self-consistent implicit kinetic particle-in-cell simulations. The strongest gradients of parallel electric fields in the simulations are along the separator and not at the X-point. We will present where in the simulation domain the 'frozen-in' condition breaks down and compare it with the location of these gradients, and discuss the implications.