Magnetosheath parameters and reconnection: a case study for the near-cusp region and the equatorial flank


We use the magnetohydrodynamic approach to calculate all plasma and magnetic field quantities along a line normal to the magnetopause, beginning at the bow shock, through the magnetosheath and magnetopause, and into the magnetosphere. Our method is based on a perturbation calculation, where we expand in orders of , with MA∞ the Alfvén Mach number upstream of the bow shock. The calculations are carried out (1) in the noon-midnight meridian at latitudes just south of the northern cusp, and (2) in the equatorial flank region. Our calculations are for an interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) which is directed perpendicular to the upstream solar wind. We consider two orientations of the IMF. In one case, the interplanetary field points due south, i.e. antiparallel to the magnetospheric field in the subsolar point. In the second case, it lies in the equatorial plane and points from dusk to dawn. For each of these different orientations of the IMF, in situ observations of reconnection have been made. In the magnetosheath region adjacent to the magnetopause, i.e. in the so-called magnetic barrier, the magnetic forces react back on the plasma flow. This effect is included consistently in the calculation by the use of a special coordinate system. The magnetic field tension accelerates the plasma in a direction perpendicular to the field and thus the magnetic field produces an asymmetry in the flow field. At the magnetopause we describe shock-type reconnection, taking as input on the magnetosheath side the results of the above calculation and taking at the magnetospheric side typical values for the outer boundary of the magnetosphere. The format in which the results are presented is similar to that used in the presentation of bulk parameters and magnetic field measurements obtained from spacecraft.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Planetary and Space Science



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type