Field and flow perturbations outside the reconnected field line region in flux transfer events: Theory


We propose a simplified model of field draping in flux transfer events. To this end we investigate the perturbations in the magnetic field and plasma flow close to but outside a reconnected magnetic flux tube. Following Southwood (1985, in Physics of Ionosphere—Magnetosphere, Adv. Space Res.5, 4–7), we treat the case of incompressible flow and rigid flux tube boundary. We find that the external field perturbations are practically indistinguishable from those observed in the data and hitherto generally ascribed to actual penetration by the spacecraft of the open field line region. The magnetic signature of draping involves all three components of the magnetic field and is accompanied by changes in field strength. The perturbations in the plasma velocity are related to those in the magnetic field and there are concomitant pressure disturbances as well.

The effect of magnetopause motion is to complicate the signature by introducing asymmetries and multiple extrema in the variations of the components.

A discussion of observations corroborating the theory will appear separately.

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Planetary and Space Science



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