Low and middle altitude cusp particle signatures for general magnetopause reconnection rate variations: 1. Theory
Lockwood, M. and Smith, M. F. (1994) Low and middle altitude cusp particle signatures for general magnetopause reconnection rate variations: 1. Theory. Journal of Geophysical Research, 99 (A5). 8531-8553,. ISSN 0148-0227
To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/93JA03399
We present predictions of the signatures of magnetosheath particle precipitation (in the regions classified as open low-latitude boundary layer, cusp, mantle and polar cap) for periods when the interplanetary magnetic field has a southward component. These are made using the “pulsating cusp” model of the effects of time-varying magnetic reconnection at the dayside magnetopause. Predictions are made for both low-altitude satellites in the topside ionosphere and for midaltitude spacecraft in the magnetosphere. Low-altitude cusp signatures, which show a continuous ion dispersion signature, reveal "quasi-steady reconnection" (one limit of the pulsating cusp model), which persists for a period of at least 10 min. We estimate that “quasi-steady” in this context corresponds to fluctuations in the reconnection rate of a factor of 2 or less. The other limit of the pulsating cusp model explains the instantaneous jumps in the precipitating ion spectrum that have been observed at low altitudes. Such jumps are produced by isolated pulses of reconnection: that is, they are separated by intervals when the reconnection rate is zero. These also generate convecting patches on the magnetopause in which the field lines thread the boundary via a rotational discontinuity separated by more extensive regions of tangential discontinuity. Predictions of the corresponding ion precipitation signatures seen by midaltitude spacecraft are presented. We resolve the apparent contradiction between estimates of the width of the injection region from midaltitude data and the concept of continuous entry of solar wind plasma along open field lines. In addition, we reevaluate the use of pitch angle-energy dispersion to estimate the injection distance.