Characterising 3D Small-scale Reconnection in Kinetic Simulations of Space Plasma Turbulence

Agudelo Rueda, Jeffersson Andres;


Characterising 3D Small-scale Reconnection in Kinetic Simulations of Space Plasma Turbulence.

Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Magnetic reconnection and turbulence are two of the most important and enigmatic phenomena in plasma physics. Although they have been widely studied individually in a wide range of configurations, the research about the links between turbulence and reconnection is still in its early stages. It is accepted that there is a bi-directional feedback between the two phenomena, and understanding it is crucial to solve the longstanding problem of energy dissipation in collisionless plasmas. In this thesis, I present my contribution to this research field. I use 3D fully kinetic particle-in-cell simulations to explore reconnection that occurs from the turbulent interaction of anisotropic fluctuations consistent with the plasma conditions in the solar wind. I characterise the turbulence in the simulation and propose a set of indicators to find reconnection sites in the simulation. I select one reconnection event and study its geometry, magnetic field configuration, and the associated particle flows. I also explore the profiles of plasma and magnetic-field fluctuations recorded along artificial-spacecraft trajectories passing near and through the reconnection region. Furthermore, I develop and apply a mathematical framework to explore the reversible and irreversible energy density transfer rates. I compare my results with previous studies of turbulent and laminar reconnection. The results presented in this thesis suggest that turbulent reconnection presents a complex three-dimensional problem, and the use of two-dimensional laminar or turbulent models to describe this type of reconnection does not accurately capture its energy transfer properties. Finally, I use my turbulent simulations for the preparation of a new multi-spacecraft mission concept (MagneToRE) to study the magnetic field topology in space plasmas.

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