A Statistical View of the Effect of Density Asymmetry and Guide Field on the Structure of the Reconnection Layer Poleward of the Cusp
Monday, 15 December 2014: 12:05 PM
We examine several Cluster and Polar crossings of the magnetopause at high latitudes poleward of the cusp under strongly northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) in the years 2001-2008. In this effort, we only study crossings under IMFs whose clock angle is less than 45 degrees for a continuous interval of over 2 hours. As shown by several numerical simulations, theoretical analyses, and a few in-situ observations during recent years, asymmetries in plasma density, magnetic field and flow give rise to major features which are significantly different from those observed in a collisionless diffusion region/reconnection layer when conditions are symmetric. Our study of this specific region, i.e. poleward of the cusp, contains examples of a wide dynamic range of values of these physical parameters. Specifically, we focus on counter-streaming flows and the effects of density asymmetries, ranging up to 2 orders of magnitude and a wide spectrum of guide field values on the structure of the diffusion region.