Thursday, June 9, 2016

Chapman Conference Opens New Insights Into Planetary Magnetospheres

The Chapman Conference on Magnetospheric Dynamics held in Fairbanks, AK last September (around the same time we were returning from Budapest) has opened phenomenal new insights into the nature of planetary magnetospheres, as well as ancillary issues of magnetic reconnection.  Some of the highlights of the conference as reported by J.R. Kan of the Geophysical Institute in Eos: Earth & Space Science News (May, pp. 12-13):

- Researchers discussed how the magnetospheres of Saturn and Jupiter  are driven mainly by planetary rotation but also display important reconnection phenomena, especially those which involve reconnection along a stretched closed field line and reconnection of 2 open field lines (Vasyliunas and Dungey cycles) These cycles cause plasma circulation in the magnetosphere and dynamic auroral displays.

- Researcher Jim Drake identified two fundamental routes to fast reconnection through the formation of a steady open outflow channel (from Hall reconnection - where ion dynamics control the reconnection rate.)

- Preliminary MMS (Magnetospheric Multiscale) mission electron- scale measurements were presented - by Li -Jen Chen - for a possible reconnection diffusion region, i.e. in which magnetic energy is converted to particle energy causing the magnetic field lines in the solar wind and the magnetosphere to break and reconnect one to the other.

- Researcher Bob Schunk brought attendees up to date on the theory and modeling of ionospheric outflow and its effects on the magnetosphere.

- Solar physicist Jim Klimchuk presented insights into magnetic reconnection in the solar corona, noting that reconnection on the Sun  (at the base of magnetic loops) appears to be patchy and irregular.

- One day (Friday) was devoted entirely to preliminary MMS results, including features of the igh resolution data set during crossings of the magnetopause.

In the words of Kan:

"We enjoyed the conference. It provided a good assessment of our current understanding of magnetospheric dynamics. It also gave us a good look at what's happening next in our field, now that MMS is supplying an unprecedented depth and breadth of data."

Regrettably, due to conflicts with an already (far ahead) planned eastern European holiday, I was unable to attend, but hope to make the next one!

See also:

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