COLLOQUIUM: Space Physics and the Role of Magnetic Reconnection in Space Weather
Earth's magnetosphere is buffeted by the solar wind. The interaction transfers energy electro-mechanically into Earth's environment and sets the magnetospheric and ionospheric plasma into motion. The energy is ultimately converted to heat raising the scale-height of the ionosphere, and to energetic particles responsible for space weather. Magnetic reconnection plays a critical role in both energy input and energy release in geospace, in ways similar to energy conversion at the Sun and other astrophysical and laboratory systems.
Magnetospheric energy and flux circulation is unsteady, leading to phenomena such as magnetic storms and substorms. Recent ground-based imagers have revealed that meso-scale (1-3Re scale, i.e., between global and kinetic) processes are responsible for global circulation. These can release inside the magnetosphere most of the available global magnetic energy by direct ion and electron acceleration at high speed jets and through wave radiation. The conversion occurs at scales between electron and ion skin depths inside "reconnection fronts" - i.e., fronts of magnetic flux that emanate on either side from the reconnection points. These fronts and the related fast flow bursts are elemental energy conversion and flux circulation processes. Current and future multi-spacecraft studies hold great promise for unraveling both the kinetic physics of these phenomena as well as their global interactions.
The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory 2014-2015 Colloquium Committee is comprised of the following people. Please feel free to contact them by e-mail regarding any possible speakers or topics for future colloquia.
- Carol Ann Austin 609-243-2484