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Evaluating single-spacecraft observations of planetary magnetotails with simple Monte Carlo Simulations: 1. Spatial distributions of the neutral line

Evaluating single-spacecraft observations of planetary magnetotails with simple Monte Carlo Simulations: 1. Spatial distributions of the neutral line
Evaluating single-spacecraft observations of planetary magnetotails with simple Monte Carlo Simulations: 1. Spatial distributions of the neutral line

A simple Monte Carlo model is presented that considers the effects of spacecraft orbital sampling on the inferred distribution of magnetic flux ropes, generated through magnetic reconnection in the magnetotail current sheet. When generalized, the model allows the determination of the number of orbits required to constrain the underlying population of structures: It is able to quantify this as a function of the physical parameters of the structures (e.g., azimuthal extent and probability of generation). The model is shown adapted to the Hermean magnetotail, where the outputs are compared to the results of a recent survey. This comparison suggests that the center of Mercury's neutral line is located dawnward of midnight by 0.37+1.21 −1.02 RM and that the flux ropes are most likely to be wide azimuthally (∼50% of the width of the Hermean tail). The downtail location of the neutral line is not self-consistent or in agreement with previous (independent) studies unless dissipation terms are included planetward of the reconnection site; potential physical explanations are discussed. In the future the model could be adapted to other environments, for example, the dayside magnetopause or other planetary magnetotails.

flux ropes, magnetotail, Mercury, MESSENGER, Monte Carlo, reconnection
2169-9380
10109-10123
Smith, A. W.
f719dbf6-612c-4ecb-9ec8-ae0ac74928eb
Jackman, C. M.
9bc3456c-b254-48f1-ade0-912c5b8b4529
Frohmaier, C. M.
9e031e04-b5ac-4949-80a5-92e5e13201c0
Coxon, J. C.
566baea5-6a30-4855-bde3-a09c115efde4
Slavin, J. A.
40c1eb46-992c-4bf4-be56-df0dcc75759a
Fear, R. C.
8755b9ed-c7dc-4cbb-ac9b-56235a0431ab
Smith, A. W.
f719dbf6-612c-4ecb-9ec8-ae0ac74928eb
Jackman, C. M.
9bc3456c-b254-48f1-ade0-912c5b8b4529
Frohmaier, C. M.
9e031e04-b5ac-4949-80a5-92e5e13201c0
Coxon, J. C.
566baea5-6a30-4855-bde3-a09c115efde4
Slavin, J. A.
40c1eb46-992c-4bf4-be56-df0dcc75759a
Fear, R. C.
8755b9ed-c7dc-4cbb-ac9b-56235a0431ab

Smith, A. W., Jackman, C. M., Frohmaier, C. M., Coxon, J. C., Slavin, J. A. and Fear, R. C. (2018) Evaluating single-spacecraft observations of planetary magnetotails with simple Monte Carlo Simulations: 1. Spatial distributions of the neutral line. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 123 (12), 10109-10123. (doi:10.1029/2018JA025958).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A simple Monte Carlo model is presented that considers the effects of spacecraft orbital sampling on the inferred distribution of magnetic flux ropes, generated through magnetic reconnection in the magnetotail current sheet. When generalized, the model allows the determination of the number of orbits required to constrain the underlying population of structures: It is able to quantify this as a function of the physical parameters of the structures (e.g., azimuthal extent and probability of generation). The model is shown adapted to the Hermean magnetotail, where the outputs are compared to the results of a recent survey. This comparison suggests that the center of Mercury's neutral line is located dawnward of midnight by 0.37+1.21 −1.02 RM and that the flux ropes are most likely to be wide azimuthally (∼50% of the width of the Hermean tail). The downtail location of the neutral line is not self-consistent or in agreement with previous (independent) studies unless dissipation terms are included planetward of the reconnection site; potential physical explanations are discussed. In the future the model could be adapted to other environments, for example, the dayside magnetopause or other planetary magnetotails.

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Smith_et_al-2018-Journal_of_Geophysical_Research__Space_Physics (1) - Version of Record
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Accepted/In Press date: 1 December 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 10 December 2018
Published date: December 2018
Keywords: flux ropes, magnetotail, Mercury, MESSENGER, Monte Carlo, reconnection

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427614
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427614
ISSN: 2169-9380
PURE UUID: 1bdf92ab-ec48-46a8-9930-e718f470c2ae
ORCID for A. W. Smith: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7321-4331
ORCID for J. C. Coxon: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-0166-6854
ORCID for R. C. Fear: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0589-7147

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Date deposited: 24 Jan 2019 17:30
Last modified: 10 Dec 2019 01:34

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