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'Crater' flux transfer events: Highroad to the X line?

'Crater' flux transfer events: Highroad to the X line?

Publication date: 08 February 2011

Authors: Farrugia, C.J., et al.

Journal: J. Geophys. Res.
Volume: 116
Page: A02204
Year: 2011

Copyright: American Geophysical Union

We examine Cluster observations of a so-called magnetosphere crater FTE, employing data from five instruments (FGM, CIS, EDI, EFW, and WHISPER), some at the highest resolution. The aim of doing this is to deepen our understanding of the reconnection nature of these events by applying recent advances in the theory of collisionless reconnection and in detailed observational work. Our data support the hypothesis of a stratified structure with regions which we show to be spatial structures. We support the bulge-like topology of the core region (R3) made up of plasma jetting transverse to reconnected field lines. We document encounters with a magnetic separatrix as a thin layer embedded in the region (R2) just outside the bulge, where the speed of the protons flowing approximately parallel to the field maximizes: (1) short (fraction of a sec) bursts of enhanced electric field strengths (up to <30 mV/m) and (2) electrons flowing against the field toward the X line at approximately the same time as the bursts of intense electric fields. R2 also contains a density decrease concomitant with an enhanced magnetic field strength. At its interface with the core region, R3, electric field activity ceases abruptly. The accelerated plasma flow profile has a catenary shape consisting of beams parallel to the field in R2 close to the R2/R3 boundary and slower jets moving across the magnetic field within the bulge region. We detail commonalities our observations of crater FTEs have with reconnection structures in other scenarios. We suggest that in view of these properties and their frequency of occurrence, crater FTEs are ideal places to study processes at the separatrices, key regions in magnetic reconnection. This is a good preparation for the MMS mission.

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