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The plasma sheet and boundary layers under northward IMF: A multi-point and multi-instrument perspective

Abstract : During conditions of northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), the near-tail plasma sheet is known to become denser and cooler, and is described as the cold-dense plasma sheet (CDPS). While its source is likely the solar wind, the prominent penetration mechanisms are less clear. The two main candidates are solar wind direct capture via double high-latitude reconnection on the dayside and Kelvin–Helmholtz/diffusive processes at the flank magnetopause. This paper presents a case study on the formation of the CDPS utilizing a wide variety of space- and ground-based observations, but primarily from the Double Star and Polar spacecraft on December 5th, 2004. The pertinent observations can be summarized as follows: TC-1 observes quasi-periodic (not, vert, similar2 min period) cold-dense boundary layer (compared to a hot-tenuous plasma sheet) signatures interspersed with magnetosheath plasma at the dusk flank magnetopause near the dawn-dusk terminator. Analysis of this region suggests the boundary to be Kelvin–Helmholtz unstable and that plasma transport is ongoing across the boundary. At the same time, IMAGE spacecraft and ground based SuperDARN measurements provide evidence of high-latitude reconnection in both hemispheres. The Polar spacecraft, located in the southern hemisphere afternoon sector, sunward of TC-1, observes a persistent boundary layer with no obvious signature of boundary waves. The plasma is of a similar appearance to that observed by TC-1 inside the boundary layer further down the dusk flank, and by TC-2 in the near-Earth magnetotail. We present comparisons of electron phase space distributions between the spacecraft. Although the dayside boundary layer at Polar is most likely formed via double high-altitude reconnection, and is somewhat comparable to the flank boundary layer at Double Star, some differences argue in favour of additional transport that augment solar wind plasma entry into the tail regions.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 12:29:25 PM
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M. G. Taylor, B. Lavraud, P. Escoubet, S. Milan, K. Nykyri, et al.. The plasma sheet and boundary layers under northward IMF: A multi-point and multi-instrument perspective. Advances in Space Research, Elsevier, 2008, 41 (10), pp.1619-1629. ⟨10.1016/j.asr.2007.10.013⟩. ⟨insu-00360118⟩



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