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Discovery of an electron diffusion region in a reconnection layer of a laboratory plasma
 

An electron diffusion region has been identified for the first time in the reconnection layer of a laboratory plasma. Magnetic reconnection can alter the global structure of magnetic field. However, the rate of reconnection is controlled in part by dynamics in a reconnection region (sometimes called the diffusion region) about which magnetic field lines tear and reconnect. Recent 2D numerical simulations predict a two-scale diffusion layer in which an electron diffusion layer resides inside of the larger ion diffusion layer of the width of the ion skin depth. In the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) at the Princeton Plasma Physic Laboratory, the electron diffusion region is verified and found that demagnetized electrons are accelerated in the outflow direction. The measured width of the electron diffusion region scales with the electron skin depth (˜8c/ωρi, where ωρi is the electron plasma frequency) and the electron outflow scales with the electron Alfv’en velocity ( 0.11VA). Properties of both the electron and ion flow structures agree with simulation.

Electron Diffusion
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A National Science Foundation Physics Frontier Center,
established in coordination with the Department of Energy.


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