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Two sources of magnetosheath ions observed by Cluster in the mid-altitude polar cusp

Two sources of magnetosheath ions observed by Cluster in the mid-altitude polar cusp

Publication date: 20 April 2007

Authors: Escoubet, C.P. et al.

Journal: Adv. Space Res.
Volume: in press. Available online

Copyright: COSPAR

Double cusps have been observed on a few occasions by polar orbiting spacecraft and ground-based observatories. The four Cluster spacecraft observed two distinct regions, showing characteristics of a double cusp, during a mid-altitude cusp pass on 7 August 2004. The Wind spacecraft detected a southward turning of the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) at the beginning of the cusp crossings and IMF-Bz stayed negative throughout. Cluster 4 observed a high energy step in the ion precipitation around 1 keV on the equatorward side of the cusp and a dense ion population in the cusp centre. Cluster 1, entering the cusp around 1 min later, observed only a partial ion dispersion with a low energy cutoff reaching 100 eV, together with the dense ion population in the cusp centre. About 9 min later, Cluster 3 entered the cusp and observed full ion dispersion from a few keV down to around 50 eV, together with the dense ion population in the centre of the cusp. The ion flow was directed poleward and eastward in the step/dispersion, whereas in the centre of the cusp the flow was directed poleward and westward. In addition the altitude of the source region of ion injection in the step/dispersion was found 50% larger than in the cusp centre. This event could be explained by the onset of dayside reconnection when the IMF turned southward. The step would be the first signature of component reconnection near the subsolar point, and the injection in the centre of the cusp a result of anti-parallel reconnection in the northern dusk side of the cusp. A three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulation is used to display the topology of the magnetic field and locate the sources of the ions during the event.

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