The statistical cusp: a flux transfer event model
Smith, M.F., Lockwood, M. and Cowley, S.W.H. (1992) The statistical cusp: a flux transfer event model. Planetary and Space Science, 40 (9). pp. 1251-1268. ISSN 0032-0633
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/0032-0633(92)90082-Y
Traditionally, the cusp has been described in terms of a time-stationary feature of the magnetosphere which allows access of magnetosheath-like plasma to low altitudes. Statistical surveys of data from low-altitude spacecraft have shown the average characteristics and position of the cusp. Recently, however, it has been suggested that the ionospheric footprint of flux transfer events (FTEs) may be identified as variations of the “cusp” on timescales of a few minutes. In this model, the cusp can vary in form between a steady-state feature in one limit and a series of discrete ionospheric FTE signatures in the other limit. If this time-dependent cusp scenario is correct, then the signatures of the transient reconnection events must be able, on average, to reproduce the statistical cusp occurrence previously determined from the satellite observations. In this paper, we predict the precipitation signatures which are associated with transient magnetopause reconnection, following recent observations of the dependence of dayside ionospheric convection on the orientation of the IMF. We then employ a simple model of the longitudinal motion of FTE signatures to show how such events can easily reproduce the local time distribution of cusp occurrence probabilities, as observed by low-altitude satellites. This is true even in the limit where the cusp is a series of discrete events. Furthermore, we investigate the existence of double cusp patches predicted by the simple model and show how these events may be identified in the data.