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Unusual shrinkage and reshaping of Earth’s magnetosphere under a strong northward interplanetary magnetic field

Wang, X.-Y. ORCID:, Zhang, Q.-H. ORCID:, Wang, C. ORCID:, Zhang, Y.-L., Tang, B.-B. ORCID:, Xing, Z.-Y., Oksavik, K. ORCID:, Lyons, L. R., Lockwood, M. ORCID:, Zong, Q.-G. ORCID:, Li, G.-J., Liu, J. ORCID:, Ma, Y.-Z. and Wang, Y. (2023) Unusual shrinkage and reshaping of Earth’s magnetosphere under a strong northward interplanetary magnetic field. Communications Earth & Environment, 4. 31. ISSN 2662-4435

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/s43247-023-00700-0


The Earth’s magnetosphere is the region of space where plasma behavior is dominated by the geomagnetic field. It has a long tail typically extending hundreds of Earth radii (RE) with plentiful open magnetic fluxes threading the magnetopause associated with magnetic reconnection and momentum transfer from the solar wind. The open-flux is greatly reduced when the interplanetary magnetic field points northward, but the extent of the magnetotail remains unknown. Here we report direct observations of an almost complete disappearance of the open-flux polar cap characterized by merging poleward edges of a conjugate horse-collar aurora (HCA) in both hemispheres’ polar ionosphere. The conjugate HCA is generated by particle precipitation due to Kelvin-Helmholtz instability in the dawn and dusk cold dense plasma sheets (CDPS). These CDPS are consist of solar wind plasma captured by a continuous dual-lobe magnetic reconnections, which is further squeezed into the central magnetotail, resulting in a short “calabash-shaped” magnetotail.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:112380
Publisher:Springer Nature


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