We present Polar observations of a reconnection layer during an inbound pass at high northern latitudes. The interplanetary field of 20 nT pointed strongly northward continuously for 13 h. Reverse polar cap convection observed repeatedly by the DMSP F13 satellite provided direct evidence of continued reconnection. Polar observed sunward and southward jets. The event was hallmarked by a density asymmetry ≈140 and moderate guide field. Disturbances in fields and plasma were much more intense on the magnetosphere (MSP) side of the current sheet (CS). A density cavity was observed at both separatrices. Isolated EN peaks occurred at the density cavity regions. The intense electric field fluctuations (≤60 mV/m) were mainly in the component normal to the CS, EN. The guide field pointed opposite to the Hall field, leading to an overall weakening of the out-of-plane magnetic field. A magnetic island was observed in the outflow jet. The field reversal at the CS occurred before the outflow jet, which we argue to be due to the large density asymmetry. The stagnation line was strongly shifted toward the MSP side of the CS. We compare observations with simulations which emphasize the density asymmetry and which also include a guide field, and we find good agreement. Remaining discrepancies may be explained by a density asymmetry much larger than in simulations. This is to our knowledge the first study of a high-latitude reconnection layer with (1) an extreme density asymmetry and (2) steady and continuously strong interplanetary Bz.

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JGR: Space Physics



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This is an article published by AGU in JGR: Space Physics in 2014, available online: