Magnetic Reconnection in the Heliospheric Current Sheet: The Implications of the Different Environments Seen by the VoyagerSpacecraft

Monday, 15 December 2014
Marc M Swisdak, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, United States, James Frederick Drake, University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States and Merav Opher, Boston University, Boston, MA, United States
The magnetic field abutting the heliospheric current sheet (HCS) is primarily in the azimuthal direction, either east-to-west or west-to-east. Mis-alignment of the solar rotational and magnetic axes
leads to the characteristic ballerina-skirt shape of the HCS and during the solar cycle there can be large excursions in the sheet's latitudinal extent. Voyager 2's observations of energetic electron
dropouts are related to its crossing of this boundary. Magnetic reconnection is also thought to occur as the HCS compresses and narrows between the termination shock and the heliopause. Near the
equator the two HCS field alignments are present in roughly equal amounts, while near the edges the distribution can be considerably skewed. This will lead to substantial differences in the environments
of the two Voyager spacecraft since Voyager 1 is north of the equator, but firmly in the sector region, while Voyager 2 is south of the equator and skirting the edges of the sector region. We present
particle-in-cell simulations demonstrating the consequences of the reconnection of asymmetric amounts of flux. In particular, we will discuss Voyager 2's remaining time in the heliosphere -- including the
implications for the solar wind velocity, energetic particle transport, and the expected structure of Voyager 2's heliopause crossing -- and compare it with the data collected from Voyager 1.