Ion precipitation data from two co-orbiting Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites (F6 and F8) are used to investigate magnetopause reconnection models. We examine differential fluxes between 30 eV and 30 keV, from a Southern Hemisphere, prenoon pass during the morning of January 10, 1990. Data from the first satellite to pass through the region (F6) show two distinct ion energy dispersions •-1 ø of latitude apart, between 76 ø and 79 ø magnetic latitude. The electron data exhibit similar features at around the same region but with no or little energy dispersion, consistent with their high velocities. We suggest that the two energy dispersions can be explained by two separate injections resulting from two bursts of magnetopause reconnection. Data from the second satellite (F8), which moved through the same region I rain later, reveal the same energy-dispersed structures, only further poleward and with less overall flux. This temporal evolution is consistent with two recently reconnected flux tubes releasing their plasma as they move antisunward away from dayside merging sites. However, an observed overlap between the two ion energy dispersions suggests a more complex reconnection geometry than usual models can accommodate. We propose a generalized reconnection scenario that unifies the Bursty Single X-Line and the Multiple X-Line Reconnection models. A simple time-of-flight particle precipitation model is constructed to reproduce the ion dispersions and their overlap. The modeling results suggest that for time-dependent reconnection the dispersion overlap is observed clearly at low altitudes only for a short period compared with the evolution timescale of the ion precipitation.



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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics


American Geophysical Union

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Copyright 2001 by the American Geophysical Union.

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