Characteristics of the Cross-Tail Current in the Earth's Magnetotail

  1. Thomas A. Potemra
  1. A. T. Y. Lui

Published Online: 21 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM028p0158

Magnetospheric Currents

Magnetospheric Currents

How to Cite

Lui, A. T. Y. (1984) Characteristics of the Cross-Tail Current in the Earth's Magnetotail, in Magnetospheric Currents (ed T. A. Potemra), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM028p0158

Author Information

  1. Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Maryland 20707

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1984

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900551

Online ISBN: 9781118664131



  • Magnetospheric currents—Congresses;
  • Plasma instabilities—Congresses


The basic features and substorm changes of the neutral sheet within the downstream distance of ∼30 Re in the magnetotail are briefly reviewed. Different signatures of the neutral sheet are presented. A classification scheme for the varieties in neutral sheet signatures is proposed. Based on this classification scheme, the most common features observed at the neutral sheet are identified to be those anticipated for a classical neutral sheet crossing. Detailed study of the varieties in neutral sheet signatures reveals (1) wave profiles on the neutral sheet surface, (2) magnetic islands embedded in the neutral sheet, (3) disordered magnetic field regions, (4) magnetic structures with large dawn-dusk field components, and (5) partial penetration (∼50%) of the dawn-dusk component of the interplanetary magnetic field into the neutral sheet. The large-scale substorm changes of the cross-tail current are examined in one case study. The general observed features are consistent with the idea of diversion of the near-earth cross-tail current into the ionosphere at substorm onset.