Identifying the Open-Closed Field Line Boundary
Lockwood, M. (1998) Identifying the Open-Closed Field Line Boundary. In: NATO Advanced Study Institute on Polar Cap Boundary Phenomena, 4-13 June 1997, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, pp. 73-90. (in "Polar Cap Boundary Phenomena ", ed. J. Moen, A. Egeland and M. Lockwood,)
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/978-94-011-5214-3_7
Of all the various definitions of the polar cap boundary that have been used in the past, the most physically meaningful and significant is the boundary between open and closed field lines. Locating this boundary is very important as it defines which regions and phenomena are on open field lines and which are on closed. This usually has fundamental implications for the mechanisms invoked. Unfortunately, the open-closed boundary is usually very difficult to identify, particularly where it maps to an active reconnection site. This paper looks at the topological reconnection classes that can take place, both at the magnetopause and in the cross-tail current sheet and discusses the implications for identifying the open-closed boundary when reconnection is giving velocity filter dispersion of signatures. On the dayside, it is shown that the dayside boundary plasma sheet and low-latitude boundary layer precipitations are well explained as being on open field lines, energetic ions being present because of reflection of central plasma sheet ions off the two Alfvén waves launched by the reconnection site (the outer one of which is the magnetopause). This also explains otherwise anomalous features of the dayside convection pattern in the cusp region. On the nightside, similar considerations place the open-closed boundary somewhat poleward of the velocity-dispersed ion structures which are a signature of the plasma sheet boundary layer ion flows in the tail.