Letter. Cassini in situ observations of long-duration magnetic reconnection in Saturn’s magnetotail

Arridge, C.S., Eastwood, J.P. and Jackman, C.M. et al. (2015) Letter. Cassini in situ observations of long-duration magnetic reconnection in Saturn’s magnetotail Nature Physics, 12, pp. 268-271. (doi:10.1038/nphys3565).


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Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process in solar system and astrophysical plasmas, through which stored magnetic energy associated with current sheets is converted into thermal, kinetic and wave energy1, 2, 3, 4. Magnetic reconnection is also thought to be a key process involved in shedding internally produced plasma from the giant magnetospheres at Jupiter and Saturn through topological reconfiguration of the magnetic field5, 6. The region where magnetic fields reconnect is known as the diffusion region and in this letter we report on the first encounter of the Cassini spacecraft with a diffusion region in Saturn’s magnetotail. The data also show evidence of magnetic reconnection over a period of 19?h revealing that reconnection can, in fact, act for prolonged intervals in a rapidly rotating magnetosphere. We show that reconnection can be a significant pathway for internal plasma loss at Saturn6. This counters the view of reconnection as a transient method of internal plasma loss at Saturn5, 7. These results, although directly relating to the magnetosphere of Saturn, have applications in the understanding of other rapidly rotating magnetospheres, including that of Jupiter and other astrophysical bodies.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1038/nphys3565
ISSNs: 1745-2473 (print)
Organisations: Astronomy Group
ePrint ID: 393563
Date :
Date Event
15 October 2015Accepted/In Press
30 November 2015e-pub ahead of print
March 2016Published
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2016 08:24
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 03:20
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/393563

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