Cold ion heating at the dayside magnetopause during magnetic reconnection
Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp. 58-66 DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2015GL067187
Toledo-Redondo, S.; André, M.; Vaivads, A.; Khotyaintsev, Yu. V.; Lavraud, B.; Graham, D. B.; Divin, A.; Aunai, N.
Cold ions of ionospheric origin are known to be present in the magnetospheric side of the Earth’s magnetopause. They can be very abundant, with densities up to 100 cm-3. These cold ions can mass load the magnetosphere, changing global parameters of magnetic reconnection, like the Alfvén speed or the reconnection rate. In addition they introduce a new length scale related to their gyroradius and kinetic effects which must be accounted for. We report in situ observations of cold ion heating in the separatrix owing to time and space fluctuations of the electric field. When this occurs, the cold ions are preheated before crossing the Hall electric field barrier. However, when this mechanism is not present cold ions can be observed well inside the reconnection exhaust. Our observations suggest that the perpendicular cold ion heating is stronger close to the X line owing to waves and electric field gradients linked to the reconnection process.