Electron Acceleration in the Magnetotail during Substorms in Semi-Global PIC Simulations

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Robert L Richard1, David Schriver1, Maha Ashour-Abdalla1, Mostafa El-Alaoui2, Giovanni Lapenta3 and Raymond J Walker4, (1)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (2)University of California Los Angeles, Physics and Astronomy, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (3)Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, (4)University of California Los Angeles, Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, Los Angeles, CA, United States
To understand the acceleration of electrons during a substorm reconnection event we have applied a semi-global particle in cell (PIC) simulation box embedded within a global magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulation of Earth’s magnetosphere for an event on February 15, 2008. The MHD results were used to populate the PIC simulation and to set the boundary conditions. In the magnetotail we found that a series of dipolarizations formed due to unsteady reconnection. We also found that the most energetic electrons were in the separatrices far from the x-point. We attributed the acceleration to a streaming instability in the separatrices. To further understand electron acceleration we have applied the large scale kinetic (LSK) technique in which tens- to hundreds- of thousands of electrons are followed within the electric and magnetic fields from the PIC simulations., Electrons are already included in the PIC simulation, but the LSK simulations will allow selected individual particles to be followed and analyzed. Initially we performed electron LSK calculations in a two dimensional version of the PIC simulation in which electrons were allowed to move in the ignorable cross tail direction. These LSK calculations showed that electrons gained energy primarily for two reasons: (1) acceleration by the average dawn to dusk electric field and (2) acceleration by intense but localized electric field structures. The overall electron transport was more dawnward than duskward due to the average electric field. At the same time electrons typically moved away from the reconnection region in both the earthward and tailward directions. Superimposed on this large-scale transport was motion in both the dusk and dawn directions across the tail because of the electric field structures, which were particularly intense in the separatrices. LSK calculations are now being carried out by using the full three-dimensional magnetic and electric fields from the PIC simulation and these results will be compared with the two-dimensional results for the same substorm event.