Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental energy conversion process in collisionless plasmas involving processes of multi-scale. While the change of magnetic field topology takes place inside a small region where electrons become unmagnetized, regions of acceleration and heating of plasma are distributed at larger scales, driving global plasma transport, such as magnetospheric convection, or leading to sporadic magnetic energy release on global scales such as substorms, flares and gamma ray bursts.
Among the different plasmas, geospace is a natural plasma laboratory to study the ground truth of how magnetic reconnection operates in nature, since plasmas and fields in action can be directly measured at high cadence. For such in-situ observations, multi-point measurements, where temporal and spatial variations can be separated, are essential for detecting the complex energy conversion processes relevant to magnetic reconnection.
Members of the space plasma physics group are actively working on data analysis from multi-point spacecraft measurements using missions like Cluster, THEMIS, and MMS alongside advanced computer simulations to enable the study of magnetic reconnection from the electron and ion scales to the large-scale consequences of reconnection in Near-Earth space.