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Global reconnection topology as inferred from plasma observations inside Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices

Cattaneo, MBB; Marcucci, MF; Bogdanova, YV; Reme, H; Dandouras, I; Kistler, LM; Lucek, E; (2010) Global reconnection topology as inferred from plasma observations inside Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices. Annales Geophysicae , 28 (4) 893 - 906. 10.5194/angeo-28-893-2010. Green open access

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Abstract

During a long lasting period of northward interplanetary magnetic field and high solar wind speed (above 700 km/s), the Cluster spacecraft go across a number of very large rolled-up Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) vortices at the dusk magnetopause, close to the terminator. The peculiarity of the present event is a particular sequence of ions and electrons distribution functions observed repeatedly inside each vortex. In particular, whenever Cluster crosses the current layer inside the vortices, multiple field-aligned ion populations appear, suggesting the occurrence of reconnection. In addition, the ion data display a clear velocity filter effect both at the leading and at the trailing edge of each vortex. This effect is not present in the simultaneous electron data. Unlike other KH studies reported in the literature in which reconnection occurs within the vortices, in the present event the observations are not compatible with local reconnection, but are accounted for by lobe reconnection occurring along an extended X-line at the terminator in the Southern Hemisphere. The reconnected field lines 'sink' across the magnetopause and then convect tailward-duskward where they become embedded in the vortices. Another observational evidence is the detected presence of solar wind plasma on the magnetospheric side of the vortices, which confirms unambiguously the occurrence of mass transport across the magnetopause already reported in the literature. The proposed reconnection scenario accounts for all the observational aspects, regarding both the transport process and the kinetic signatures.

Type: Article
Title: Global reconnection topology as inferred from plasma observations inside Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5194/angeo-28-893-2010
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/angeo-28-893-2010
Language: English
Additional information: © Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Anyone (the author, his/her institution/company, the publisher, as well as the public) is free to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the work as long as the original author is given credit.
Keywords: Magnetospheric physics, magnetopause, cusp, and boundary layers, solar wind-magnetosphere interactions, space plasma physics, magnetic reconnection, latitude boundary-layer, magnetic-field, earths magnetosphere, geotail observations, magnetotail boundary, instability, magnetopause, electron, interplanetary, simulations
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/138757
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