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Suprathermal electron acceleration during reconnection onset in the magnetotail

Author(s): A. Vaivads | A. Retinò | Yu. V. Khotyaintsev | M. André

Journal: Annales Geophysicae
ISSN 0992-7689

Volume: 29;
Issue: 10;
Start page: 1917;
Date: 2011;
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We study one event of reconnection onset associated to a small substorm on 27 September 2006 by using Cluster observations at inter-spacecraft separation of about 10 000 km. We focus on the acceleration of suprathermal electrons during different stages of reconnection. We show that several distinct stages of acceleration occur: (1) moderate acceleration during reconnection of pre-existing plasma sheet flux tubes, (2) stronger acceleration during reconnection of lobe flux tubes, (3) production of the most energetic electrons within dipolarization fronts (magnetic pile-up regions). The strongest acceleration is reached at the location of Bz maxima inside the magnetic pile-up region where the reconnection jet stops. Very strong localized dawn-dusk electric field are observed within the magnetic pile-up regions and are associated to most of the magnetic flux transport.
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