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Triple cusps observed by Cluster-Temporal or spatial effect?

Triple cusps observed by Cluster-Temporal or spatial effect?

Publication date: 15 May 2004

Authors: Zong, Q.-G., et al.

Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Volume: 31
Issue: L09810
Year: 2004

On April 18, 2002, the Cluster spacecraft were outbound in the northern hemisphere over the pole and entered the cusp. A cusp-like region was observed consecutively three times from 1620 to 1830 UT by all four Cluster Spacecraft although the solar wind dynamic pressure was small and stable. All three cusp encounters were characterized by turbulent magnetic fields, high density plasma and stagnant plasma flow. The cusp region identifications were further confirmed by the clock angle criterion. All three cusps were found to be associated with clear signatures of energetic ions, high He/H and O/H ratios obtained by the RAPID instrument. The observed triple cusps may be either explained as a funnel-shaped cusp trifurcated or swiveled into a complicated geometry in space or as a cusp which shifted back and forth three times in a two hour interval. Observational evidence shows that the observed triple cusps were a temporal sequence rather than a spatial effect. We suggest further that the solar wind azimuthal flow was the controlling factor of the cusp position and was stronger factor than the IMF BY/BZ components. The importance of the solar wind azimuthal and north/south flow as a dynamic driver of the cusp, and even the whole magnetosphere has been more or less neglected or underestimated.

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