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Structure of the separatrix region close to a magnetic reconnection X-line: Cluster observations

Structure of the separatrix region close to a magnetic reconnection X-line: Cluster observations

Publication date: 16 March 2006

Authors: Retinò, A. et al.

Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Volume: 33
Issue: 6
Page: L06101
Year: 2006

Copyright: American Geophysical Union

We use Cluster spacecraft observations to study in detail the structure of a magnetic reconnection separatrix region on the magnetospheric side of the magnetopause about 50 ion inertial lengths away from the X-line. The separatrix region is the region between the magnetic separatrix and the reconnection jet. It is several ion inertial lengths wide and it contains a few subregions showing different features in particle and wave data. One subregion, a density cavity adjacent to the separatrix, has strong electric fields, electron beams and intense wave turbulence. The separatrix region shows structures even at smaller scales, for example, solitary waves at Debye length scale. We describe in detail electron distribution functions and electric field spectra in the separatrix region and we compare them to a numerical simulation. Our observations show that while reconnection is ongoing the separatrix region is highly structured and dynamic in the electric field even if the X-line is up to 50 ion inertial lengths away.

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