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A magnetic null geometry reconstructed from Cluster spacecraft observations

A magnetic null geometry reconstructed from Cluster spacecraft observations

Publication date: 09 August 2008

Authors: He, J.-S., et al.

Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research
Volume: 113
Page: A05205
Year: 2008

Copyright: American Geophysical Union

This paper reports for the first time the identification of a magnetic structure around a magnetic null in a magnetic reconnection region in the magnetotail. Magnetic reconnection is one of the fundamental processes in astrophysical and solar-terrestrial plasmas. Though the concept of reconnection has been studied for many years, the process that really occurs has not been fully revealed by direct measurements. In particular, the lack of a description of three-dimensional (3-D) reconnecting magnetic field from observations makes the task more difficult. The Cluster spacecraft array provide an opportunity to reconstruct the 3-D magnetic reconnection structure based on magnetic field vectors simultaneously measured at four positions. The identification of this structure comes from a new method of analysis of in situ measurements proposed here. Applying a fitting model of 10 spherical harmonic functions and a Harris current sheet function, plus a constant field, we reconstruct a 3-D magnetic field configuration around the magnetic null in an reconnection event observed by Cluster in the geo-magnetotail.

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