Magnetic reconnection at a thin current sheet separating two interlaced flux tubes at the Earth's magnetopause

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Title: Magnetic reconnection at a thin current sheet separating two interlaced flux tubes at the Earth's magnetopause
Authors: Kacem, I
Jacquey, C
Génot, V
Lavraud, B
Vernisse, Y
Marchaudon, A
Le Contel, O
Breuillard, H
Phan, TD
Hasegawa, H
Oka, M
Trattner, KJ
Farrugia, CJ
Paulson, K
Eastwood, JP
Fuselier, SA
Turner, D
Eriksson, S
Wilder, F
Russell, CT
Øieroset, M
Burch, J
Graham, DB
Sauvaud, JA
Avanov, L
Chandler, M
Coffey, V
Dorelli, J
Gershman, DJ
Giles, BL
Moore, TE
Saito, Y
Chen, LJ
Penou, E
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: The occurrence of spatially and temporally variable reconnection at the Earth's magnetopause leads to the complex interaction of magnetic fields from the magnetosphere and magnetosheath. Flux transfer events (FTEs) constitute one such type of interaction. Their main characteristics are (1) an enhanced core magnetic field magnitude and (2) a bipolar magnetic field signature in the component normal to the magnetopause, reminiscent of a large-scale helicoidal flux tube magnetic configuration. However, other geometrical configurations which do not fit this classical picture have also been observed. Using high-resolution measurements from the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, we investigate an event in the vicinity of the Earth's magnetopause on 7 November 2015. Despite signatures that, at first glance, appear consistent with a classic FTE, based on detailed geometrical and dynamical analyses as well as on topological signatures revealed by suprathermal electron properties, we demonstrate that this event is not consistent with a single, homogenous helicoidal structure. Our analysis rather suggests that it consists of the interaction of two separate sets of magnetic field lines with different connectivities. This complex three-dimensional interaction constructively conspires to produce signatures partially consistent with that of an FTE. We also show that, at the interface between the two sets of field lines, where the observed magnetic pileup occurs, a thin and strong current sheet forms with a large ion jet, which may be consistent with magnetic flux dissipation through magnetic reconnection in the interaction region.
Issue Date: 6-Mar-2018
Date of Acceptance: 27-Jan-2018
ISSN: 2169-9380
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Start Page: 1779
End Page: 1793
Journal / Book Title: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Volume: 123
Issue: 3
Copyright Statement: © 2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. To view the published open abstract, go to:
Sponsor/Funder: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Funder's Grant Number: ST/N000692/1
Keywords: Science & Technology
Physical Sciences
Astronomy & Astrophysics
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2018-02-20
Appears in Collections:Space and Atmospheric Physics
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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