Magnetic reconnection in the Earth's magnetosphere: Causes and consequences

Dr. Marit Oieroset
Space Science Laboratory
University of California, Berkeley
Thursday, March 31st, 4:00 PM
Magnetic reconnection is a universal plasma process which converts stored magnetic energy into fast flows and energetic particles. Reconnection is believed to play a role in a variety of astrophysical contexts, including stellar flares, solar flares, and planetary magnetospheres. It is believed to be the dominant process by which the solar wind enters the Earth's magnetosphere where the solar wind energy is subsequently dissipated by geomagnetic storms and auroras. The magnetosphere provides a unique opportunity to study the reconnection process by in-situ measurements, thereby allowing quantitative comparison with theory. In this talk I will present highlights of recent findings on the large-scale consequences of reconnection in the magnetosphere, including solar wind entry into the Earth's plasma sheet, as well as fortuitous observations of microphysical processes in the minuscule diffusion region where reconnection takes place.

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