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Complexities of a 3-D plasmoid flux rope as shown by an MHD simulation

Complexities of a 3-D plasmoid flux rope as shown by an MHD simulation

Publication date: 05 December 2008

Authors: Farr, N.L. et al.

Journal: J. Geophys. Res.
Volume: 113
Issue: A12
ID: A12202
Year: 2008

Copyright: American Geophysical Union

The results of a global magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulation of a pair of magnetospheric substorms on 11 August 2002 are presented. Comparisons of data with simulation results reveal a good agreement regarding the sequence of events during substorm development. We give particular emphasis to results in the simulation of a flux rope formed during the second substorm. Unlike standard 2-D depictions of reconnection and plasmoid release during the substorm sequence, the simulation shows a highly complex structure that has considerable winding of both closed and open field lines. Additionally, the simulated flux rope does not move tailward uniformly, but rather it has asymmetric motion in which the dawn flank portion moves tailward prior to the dusk portion of the flux rope. This results in a skewed flux rope structure that runs almost parallel to the tail axis instead of perpendicular to it. The simulation compares well with both prior flux rope simulations as well as satellite observations of flux ropes. We use the global simulation to map flux tube properties to the ionosphere, which allows the complexity of the mapping of the magnetic field structure from the tail to the ionosphere to be seen in a novel manner.

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