Magnetospheric Multiscale Observations of an Expanding Oxygen Wave in Magnetic Reconnection
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionGeophysical Research Letters. 2021, 48 (19), e2021GL095065. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GL095065
Heavier plasma species such as oxygen ions can have a large impact on the magnetic reconnection process. It has been hypothesized that the acceleration of demagnetized oxygen ions by the Hall electric field will lead to the formation of an oxygen wave that expands into the exhaust. By comparing data from NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission to a fully kinetic particle-in-cell simulation, we can for the first time provide observational evidence of such an expanding oxygen wave. The wave is characterized by an oxygen jet consisting of cold ions directed toward the neutral sheet associated with a density cavity. This density cavity forms as the O+ are subject to collective acceleration by the Hall electric field leaving behind a region of low-density oxygen ions. Our results are important for the understanding of the role and effect of oxygen ions in magnetic reconnection.