It has been well accepted that the physical process known as magnetic reconnection plays a fundamental role in the so-called solar wind-magnetosphere interaction by allowing the transfer of mass, energy and momentum from the solar wind to the Earth's magnetosphere. Although extensive work on theoretical, observational and numerical perspectives of the magnetic reconnection process has been performed over the years, there are a number of unanswered questions, e.g., how do two oppositely directed magnetic field lines "get cut" and "reconnect"? In particular, reconnection process occurring down to the electron inertial length scale, i.e., the smallest scale in plasma physics, has not been fully understood yet. It is also not known how the electron-scale dynamics for magnetic reconnection can link to a large scale dynamics such as auroral phenomena. This kind of questions are starting to be answered due mostly to two research fronts: 1) electron-scale numerical simulations which are going to be confirmed by 2) in situ observation of reconnection regions in the near-Earth space provided by the recent NASA's Magnetospheric Multi Scale (MMS) mission. It is proposed in this 4 months project to investigate the electron physics of reconnection and its relation with the global (large scale) aspect of the process by using a conjunction of both numerical and observational analyses. The synergy between observations and numerical experiments will definitely shed light on the reconnection physics, and most likely answer still open questions on this research topic.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: