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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 33, issue 9
Ann. Geophys., 33, 1147–1153, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-33-1147-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 33, 1147–1153, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-33-1147-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

ANGEO Communicates 17 Sep 2015

ANGEO Communicates | 17 Sep 2015

In situ evidence of breaking the ion frozen-in condition via the non-gyrotropic pressure effect in magnetic reconnection

L. Dai1,2, C. Wang1, V. Angelopoulos3, and K.-H. Glassmeier4 L. Dai et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Space Weather, National Space Science Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 2School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • 3Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences and Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 4Institute of Geophysics and extraterrestrial Physics, University of Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany

Abstract. For magnetic reconnection to proceed, the frozen-in condition for both ion fluid and electron fluid in a localized diffusion region must be violated by inertial effects, thermal pressure effects, or inter-species collisions. It has been unclear which underlying effects unfreeze ion fluid in the diffusion region. By analyzing in situ THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) spacecraft measurements at the dayside magnetopause, we present clear evidence that the off-diagonal components of the ion pressure tensor is mainly responsible for breaking the ion frozen-in condition in reconnection. The off-diagonal pressure tensor, which corresponds to a non-gyrotropic pressure effect in this event, is a fluid manifestation of ion demagnetization in the diffusion region. From the perspective of the ion momentum equation, the reported non-gyrotropic ion pressure tensor is a fundamental aspect in specifying the reconnection electric field that controls how quickly reconnection proceeds.

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Magnetic reconnection is a ubiquitous process that drives global-scale dynamics in plasmas. For reconnection to proceed, both ion and electrons must be unfrozen in a localized diffusion region. By analyzing in situ measurements, we show that the non-gyrotropic ion pressure is mainly responsible for breaking the ion frozen-in condition in reconnection. The reported non-gyrotropic ion pressure tensor can specify the reconnection electric field that controls how quickly reconnection proceeds.
Magnetic reconnection is a ubiquitous process that drives global-scale dynamics in plasmas. For...
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