Electron Acceleration during Macroscale Magnetic Reconnection

H. Arnold, J. F. Drake, M. Swisdak, F. Guo, J. T. Dahlin, B. Chen, G. Fleishman, L. Glesener, E. Kontar, T. Phan, C. Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The first self-consistent simulations of electron acceleration during magnetic reconnection in a macroscale system are presented. Consistent with solar flare observations, the spectra of energetic electrons take the form of power laws that extend more than two decades in energy. The drive mechanism for these nonthermal electrons is Fermi reflection in growing and merging magnetic flux ropes. A strong guide field suppresses the production of nonthermal electrons by weakening the Fermi drive mechanism. For a weak guide field the total energy content of nonthermal electrons dominates that of the hot thermal electrons even though their number density remains small. Our results are benchmarked with the hard x-ray, radio, and extreme ultraviolet observations of the X8.2-class solar flare on September 10, 2017.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135101
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 30 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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