Electron Acceleration and Thermalization at Magnetotail Separatrices
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics. 2020, 125 (4), e2019JA027440. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JA027440
In this study we use the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission to investigate the electron acceleration and thermalization occurring along the magnetic reconnection separatrices in the magnetotail. We find that initially cold electron lobe populations are accelerated toward the X line forming beams with energies up to a few kiloelectron volts, corresponding to a substantial fraction of the electron thermal energy inside the exhaust. The accelerated electron populations are unstable to the formation of electrostatic waves which develop into nonlinear electrostatic solitary waves. The waves' amplitudes are large enough to interact efficiently with a large part of the electron population, including the electron beam. The wave-particle interaction gradually thermalizes the beam, transforming directed drift energy to thermal energy.