TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 53 (No. 6), pp. 635-643, 2001

Kinetic simulations of 3-D reconnection and magnetotail disruptions

P. L. Pritchett and F. V. Coroniti

Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1547, U.S.A.

(Received May 15, 2000; Revised August 14, 2000; Accepted October 12, 2000)

Abstract: The effects of a full 3-D geometry on collisionless reconnection are still basically unknown. Large scale 3-D particle-in-cell simulations are used to investigate the role of internal instabilities associated with the third dimension on the reconnection process and to examine the effect of boundary conditions which are imposed on a localized reconnection region by the large scale system. For an idealized current sheet of the Harris type the internal instabilities are found not to substantially alter the structure of the 2-D diffusion region. A convection electric field localized near midnight drives a magnetotail configuration to reconnect with the formation of a thin, electron dominated current sheet and a region 2 sense field-aligned current system in the reconnection region. These processes, however, do not appear to exhibit the characteristics associated with substorm onset.

Corresponding author E-mail: pritchet@physics.ucla.edu

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