During a magnetic reconnection event, stored energy that had been bound up in stressed electromagnetic fields is released in the form of heat and the kinetic energy of particles. The NASA MMS mission is currently making diffusion-region measurements of these phenomena in the Earth’s Magnetosphere, with unprecedented levels of accuracy and resolution. Our work presents a theoretical model of a structure in space known as an asymmetric current sheet, such as the MMS mission may encounter in the magnetopause. The model can be implemented into particle-in-cell simulations of reconnection, with which to compare to the results from MMS satellite data. This will help us understand the fundamental physics of asymmetric magnetic reconnection.

Exact Vlasov-Maxwell equilibria for asymmetric current sheets
O. Allanson, F. Wilson, T. Neukirch, Y.-H. Liu and J.D.B. Hodgson,
Geophysical Research Letters, 44, 17, 8685-8695 (2017) DOI: 10.1002/2017GL074168