Observational Study of Ion Diffusion Region tailward of the Cusp: Polar and Cluster Observations in 1998-2008

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Fathima Muzleena Muzamil1, Charles J Farrugia1, Roy B Torbert1, Matthew R Argall1 and Shan Wang2, (1)University of New Hampshire Main Campus, Durham, NH, United States, (2)University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States
Asymmetries in plasma density and the presence of a guide field significantly alter the structure of the ion diffusion region (IDR) in symmetric, collisionless reconnection. These features have been shown by numerical simulations under moderate density asymmetries (~10), and theoretical analyses. However, very few studies have addressed these issues with in-situ observations. We have compiled a collection of Cluster and Polar crossings of the high-latitude magnetopause poleward of the cusp under northward interplanetary magnetic field in the years 1998-2008 when signatures of reconnection inside the IDR are observed. They encompass a wide range of density asymmetries (~10 to 1000), magnetic field asymmetries (~0.2 to 0.9), and guide fields (~10 to ~60 %). In this dedicated observational study, we target the following topics: (1) The alteration of the structure of the IDR -- i.e., its width, the non-colocation of stagnation and X-lines, jet outflow speed, and biasing of the reconnection outflow jet toward the magnetosphere -- as a function of increasing density asymmetry, and (2) the diamagnetic drift of the X-line. Further, focusing on IDR crossings during plasma flow reversals and/or near-simultaneous crossings on either side of the X-line by two spacecraft under steady ambient conditions, we report on the contrast in the Hall fields and the plasma behavior on the sunward versus the tailward sides of the X-line in its dependence on the strength of the guide field.