On the longitudinal extent of magnetopause reconnection pulses
To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s00585-996-0865-1
The open magnetosphere model of cusp ion injection, acceleration and precipitation is used to predict the dispersion characteristics for fully pulsed magnetic reconnection at a low-latitude magnetopause X-line. The resulting steps, as would be seen by a satellite moving meridionally and normal to the ionospheric projection of the X-line, are compared with those seen by satellites moving longitudinally, along the open/closed boundary. It is shown that two observed cases can be explained by similar magnetosheath and reconnection characteristics, and that the major differences between them are well explained by the different satellite paths through the events. Both cases were observed in association with poleward-moving transient events seen by ground-based radar, as also predicted by the theory. The results show that the reconnection is pulsed but strongly imply it cannot also be spatially patchy, in the sense of isolated X-lines which independently are intermittently active. Furthermore they show that the reconnection pulses responsible for the poleward-moving events and the cusp ion steps, must cover at least 3 h of magnetic local time, although propagation of the active reconnection region may mean that it does not extend this far at any one instant of time.