Ion acceleration at both the interior and exterior Alfvén waves associated with the magnetopause reconnection site: Signatures in cusp precipitation
Lockwood, M., Cowley, S. W. H. and Onsager, T. G. (1996) Ion acceleration at both the interior and exterior Alfvén waves associated with the magnetopause reconnection site: Signatures in cusp precipitation. Journal of Geophysical Research, 101 (A10). p. 21501. ISSN 0148-0227
To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/96JA01948
We present evidence for the acceleration of magnetospheric ions by reflection off two Alfvén waves, launched by the reconnection site into the inflow regions on both sides of the reconnecting magnetopause. The “exterior” wave stands in the inflow from the magnetosheath and is the magnetopause, in the sense that the majority of the field rotation occurs there. The other, “interior” wave stands in the inflow region on the magnetospheric side of the boundary. The population reflected by the interior wave is the more highly energized of the two and appears at low altitudes on open field lines, immediately equatorward of the cusp precipitation. In addition, we identify the population of magnetosheath ions transmitted across the exterior Alfvén wave, as well as a population of magnetospheric ions which are accelerated, after transmission through the interior wave, by reflection off the exterior wave. The ion populations near the X line are modeled and, with allowance for time-of-flight effects, are also derived from observations in the dayside auroral ionosphere. Agreement between observed and theoretical spectra is very good and the theory also explains the observed total fluxes and average energies of the precipitations poleward of the open/closed field line boundary. The results offer a physical interpretation of all the various classifications of precipitation into the dayside ionosphere (central plasma sheet, dayside boundary plasma sheet, void, low-latitude boundary layer, cusp, and mantle) and allow the conditions in both the magnetosphere and the magnetosheath adjacent to the X line to be studied.