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Magnetic reconnection is a universal energization process of the magnetized plasmas throughout the Universe. It is conjectured to play an important role in eruptions, for plasma heating and particle acceleration in the solar corona and in other collisionless astrophysical plasmas. The consequences of the underlying kinetic plasma processes, the generation of waves, formation of particle distributions and energy conversion, can directly be observed only in space plasmas like of magnetospheres or the solar wind and in dedicated laboratory experiments. Magnetic energy conversion rates derived for reconnection processes in the solar corona and those observed in magnetospheres and the laboratory vary over a wide range. It is now clear that understanding of the observed and conjectured highly non-linear plasma processes requires numerical simulations in order to quantitatively derive the possible plasma heating and particle acceleration by reconnection in dependence on the ambient plasma and field conditions. Simulations are also required to interpret the related observations of CLUSTER and MMS in its advent which challenge our theoretical understanding.
The goal of the proposed team work is to make a step forward towards the solution of crucial open questions of the physics of magnetic reconnection: the quantification of the efficiency of energy conversion of reconnection in collisionless astrophysical and space plasmas, the particle acceleration and plasma heating in dependence on the ambient macroscopic plasma and field configuration and parameters.
The method of the team to achieve this goal is to use state-of-the-arts CLUSTER and MMS in situ plasma observations, in combinations with high-performance supercomputer simulations, calibrating them by laboratory experiments. The innovative scientific output of our project work will be based on the direct combination of three different approaches to the physics of magnetic reconnection enhancing the potential of its investigation beyond the usually separately used three research methods. This way we aim to obtain a scaling of the plasma heating and particle acceleration by collisionless magnetic reconnection with the ambient plasma and field conditions in order to be able extrapolate the results of space observations and laboratory experiments to other astrophysical plasmas.