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Direct observation of closed magnetic flux trapped in the high-latitude magnetosphere

Record type: Article

The structure of Earth’s magnetosphere is poorly understood when the interplanetary magnetic field is northward. Under this condition, uncharacteristically energetic plasma is observed in the magnetotail lobes, which is not expected in the textbook model of the magnetosphere. Using satellite observations, we show that these lobe plasma signatures occur on high-latitude magnetic field lines that have been closed by the fundamental plasma process of magnetic reconnection. Previously, it has been suggested that closed flux can become trapped in the lobe and that this plasma-trapping process could explain another poorly understood phenomenon: the presence of auroras at extremely high latitudes, called transpolar arcs. Observations of the aurora at the same time as the lobe plasma signatures reveal the presence of a transpolar arc. The excellent correspondence between the transpolar arc and the trapped closed flux at high altitudes provides very strong evidence of the trapping mechanism as the cause of transpolar arcs.

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Citation

Fear, R.C., Milan, S.E., Maggiolo, R., Fazakerley, A.N., Dandouras, I. and Mende, S.B. (2014) Direct observation of closed magnetic flux trapped in the high-latitude magnetosphere Science, 346, (6216), pp. 1506-1510. (doi:10.1126/science.1257377).

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 19 November 2014
Published date: 19 December 2014
Organisations: Astronomy Group

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 377292
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/377292
ISSN: 0036-8075
PURE UUID: d46bbb5d-ca60-41ca-9e59-04957f8ed8db
ORCID for R.C. Fear: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0589-7147

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Date deposited: 21 May 2015 14:18
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 21:02

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Contributors

Author: R.C. Fear ORCID iD
Author: S.E. Milan
Author: R. Maggiolo
Author: A.N. Fazakerley
Author: I. Dandouras
Author: S.B. Mende

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