Two-spacecraft observations of reconnection at the magnetopause: Model results and data comparison


We revisit an example of “quasi-steady” magnetic reconnection at the dayside magnetopause on February 11, 1998, observed by Equator-S and Geotail at the dawnside magnetopause. Phan et al. [Phan, T.D. et al., 2000. Extended magnetic reconnection at the Earth’s magnetopause from detection of bi-directional jets. Nature 404, 848–850.] reported oppositely directed jets at these spacecrafts and inferred a length of the reconnection line of about 38RE. Pinnock et al. [Pinnock, M., Chisham, G., Coleman, I.J., Freeman, M.P., Hairston, M., Villain, J.-P., 2003. The location and rate of dayside reconnection during an interval of southward interplanetary magnetic field. Ann. Geophys. 21, 1467–1482.] used measurements from SuperDARN radars to show that the reconnection electric field was variable. Here we complement this work by obtaining snapshots of the reconnection electric field from the in situ observations. To do this, we apply a reconstruction method based on a model of compressible Petschek-type magnetic reconnection. This independent method uses magnetic field observations as input data to calculate the reconnection electric field. We obtain average values of Erec in the range of 0.4–2.4 mV/m. Further we infer a distance perpendicular to the reconnection line of 0.4–0.6RE. The model results are compared with the two studies mentioned above. It thus appears that while the transfer of momentum for this event is indeed large-scale, the actual rate depends on the time it is measured.

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Advances in Space Research



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