EGU General Assembly 2021
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the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Structure functions analysis of sub-ion scale turbulent fluctuations and dissipation range in a magnetized plasma

Giuseppe Arrò1,2, Francesco Califano2, and Giovanni Lapenta1
Giuseppe Arrò et al.
  • 1KU Leuven, Department of Mathematics (Departement Wiskunde), Leuven, Belgium
  • 2Università di Pisa, Dipartimento di Fisica "E. Fermi", Pisa, Italy

Turbulence in collisionless magnetized plasmas is a complex multi-scale process involving many decades of scales ranging from large magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) scales down to small ion and electron kinetic scales, associated with different physical regimes. It is well know that the MHD turbulent cascade is driven by the nonlinear interaction of low-frequency Alfvén waves but, on the other hand, the properties of plasma turbulence at sub-ion scales are not yet fully understood. In addition to a great variety of relatively high frequency modes such as kinetic Alfvén waves and whistler waves, magnetic reconnection has been suggested to be a key element in the development of kinetic scale turbulence because it allows for energy to be transferred from large scales directly into sub-ion scales through currents sheets disruption. In this context, an unusual reconnection mechanism driven exclusively by the electrons (with ions being demagnetized), called "electron-only reconnection", has been recently observed for the first time in the Earth’s magnetosheath and its role in plasma turbulence is still a matter of great debate.

Using 2D-3V hybrid Vlasov-Maxwell (HVM) simulations of freely decaying plasma turbulence, we investigate and compare the properties of the turbulence associated with standard ion-coupled reconnection and of the turbulence associated with electron-only reconnection [Califano et al., 2018]. By analyzing the structure functions of the turbulent magnetic field and ion fluid velocity fluctuations, we find that the turbulence associated with electron-only reconnection shows the same statistical features as the turbulence associated with standard ion-coupled reconnection and no peculiar signature related to electron-only reconnection is found in the turbulence statistics. This result suggests that the properties of the turbulent cascade in a magnetized plasma are independent of the specific mechanism associated with magnetic reconnection but depend only on the coupling between the magnetic field and the different particle species present in the system. Finally, the properties of the magnetic field dissipation range are discussed as well and we claim that its formation, and thus the dissipation of magnetic energy, is driven only by the small scale electron dynamics since ions are demagnetized in this range [Arró et al., 2020].

This work has received funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 776262 (AIDA,


G. Arró, F. Califano, and G. Lapenta. Statistical properties of turbulent fluctuations associated with electron-only magnetic reconnection. , 642:A45, Oct. 2020. doi: 10.1051/0004-6361/202038696.

F. Califano, S. S. Cerri, M. Faganello, D. Laveder, M. Sisti, and M. W. Kunz. Electron-only magnetic reconnection in plasma turbulence. arXiv e-prints, art. arXiv:1810.03957, Oct. 2018.

How to cite: Arrò, G., Califano, F., and Lapenta, G.: Structure functions analysis of sub-ion scale turbulent fluctuations and dissipation range in a magnetized plasma, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9050,, 2021.

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