Three-Dimensional Computer Modeling of Dynamic Reconnection in the Magnetotail: Plasmoid Signatures in the Near and Distant Tail

  1. Edward W. Hones Jr.
  1. Joachim Birn

Published Online: 19 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM030p0264

Magnetic Reconnection in Space and Laboratory Plasmas

Magnetic Reconnection in Space and Laboratory Plasmas

How to Cite

Birn, J. (1984) Three-Dimensional Computer Modeling of Dynamic Reconnection in the Magnetotail: Plasmoid Signatures in the Near and Distant Tail, in Magnetic Reconnection in Space and Laboratory Plasmas (ed E. W. Hones), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM030p0264

Author Information

  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 19 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1984

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900582

Online ISBN: 9781118664223

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Keywords:

  • Energy flux and current patterns;
  • Magnetotail;
  • Plasmoid;
  • Three-dimensional computer modeling;
  • Time-dependent evolution

Summary

Two- and three-dimensional computer models of the dynamics of the magnetosphere and in particular the magnetotail have shown, that the basic features of the idealized linear or steady state reconnection theory are still found in time dependent and spatially more complicated configurations such as the magnetotail, which basically resembles a plane sheet pinch but in addition has small magnetic field components perpendicular to the sheet, field line flaring and variations along both directions parallel to the current sheet. These basic features are the formation of a magnetic neutral X-line or separator, where two surfaces separating magnetic fluxes of different topology intersect, with the generation of an electric field along the separator and the production of strong plasma flows parallel to the current sheet away from the separator in opposite directions.

In addition, the computer models of magnetotail dynamics have produced many large scale features that are directly observed or deduced from observation in relation with magnetospheric substorms. Among those features are: the thinning of the plasma sheet, the formation of a plasmoid, a region of closed magnetic loops detached from Earth, which moves tailward at a speed of several hundreds of km/sec, and the generation of field-aligned currents.

In view of the recent discovery of plasmoid signatures in the distant magnetotail at about 200 RE from ISEE-3 satellite measurements, we discuss the properties of the plasmoid in the computer simulations, in particular its topology, spatial extent and speed, the current system associated with it and its local appearance at a fixed location in space. Furthermore, we discuss the conversion of the energy flux around the separator, current deviations and the occurrence of field-aligned currents and their generation by shear flows.