Ion Temperature Anisotropy across Reconnection Exhaust Jets

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 2:54 PM
Heli Hietala1, James Frederick Drake2, Tai-Duc Phan3, Jonathan P Eastwood4 and James P McFadden3, (1)Imperial College London, London, SW7, United Kingdom, (2)University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States, (3)University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States, (4)Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
Magnetic reconnection redistributes energy by releasing magnetic energy into plasma kinetic energy - high speed bulk flows, heating, and particle acceleration. In the magnetotail, most of the released energy appears to go into ion heating. However, previous observations and simulations show that this heating is anisotropic with the plasma temperature parallel to the magnetic field generally increasing more than the perpendicular temperature. Simulations and theory indicate that this temperature anisotropy can balance part of the magnetic tension force that accelerates the jet, and may even exceed it leading to firehose instability.

Here we report the results of a new study of ion temperature anisotropy in reconnection exhausts generated by anti-parallel reconnection. We have examined ARTEMIS dual-spacecraft observations of long-duration magnetotail exhausts at lunar distances in conjunction with Particle-In-Cell simulations. In particular, we have studied spatial variations in the ion temperature anisotropy across the outflows far away (>100 ion inertial lengths) from the X-line. A consistent pattern is found in both the spacecraft data and the simulations: whilst the total temperature profile across the exhaust is flat, near the exhaust boundaries the parallel temperature dominates. A consequence of this is that firehose threshold is greatly exceeded in a significant fraction of the exhaust. In contrast, the perpendicular temperature dominates at the neutral plane (|BX| < 0.1 B0), indicating that, despite the turbulence and the large distance to the X-line, particles undergo Speiser-like motion (rather than isotropization by scattering). We also analyse the characteristics of the particle distributions leading to these anisotropies at different distances from the mid-plane.