The structure of an earthward propagating magnetic flux rope early in its evolution: comparison of methods
2009 (English)In: Annales Geophysicae, ISSN 0992-7689, E-ISSN 1432-0576, Vol. 27, no 5, 2215-2224 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
We analyze a magnetic signature associated with the leading edge of a bursty bulk flow observed by Cluster at -19 R-E downtail on 22 August 2001. A distinct rotation of the magnetic field was seen by all four spacecraft. This event was previously examined by Slavin et al. (2003b) using both linear force-free modeling as well as a curlometer technique. Extending this work, we apply here single- and multi-spacecraft Grad-Shafranov (GS) reconstruction techniques to the Cluster observations and find good evidence that the structure encountered is indeed a magnetic flux rope and contains helical magnetic field lines. We find that the flux rope has a diameter of approximately 1 R-E, an axial field of 26.4 nT, a velocity of approximate to 650 km/s, a total axial current of 0.16 MA and magnetic fluxes of order 10(5) Wb. The field line twist is estimated as half a turn per RE. The invariant axis is inclined at 40 degrees to the ecliptic plane and 10 degrees to the GSM equatorial plane. The flux rope has a force-free core and non-force-free boundaries. When we compare and contrast our results with those obtained from minimum variance, single-spacecraft force-free fitting and curlometer techniques, we find in general fair agreement, but also clear differences such as a higher inclination of the axis to the ecliptic. We further conclude that single- spacecraft methods have limitations which should be kept in mind when applied to THEMIS observations, and that non-force-free GS and curlometer techniques are to be preferred in their analysis. Some properties we derived for this earthward - moving structure are similar to those inferred by Lui et al. (2007), using a different approach, for a tailward-moving flux rope observed during the expansion phase of the same substorm.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 27, no 5, 2215-2224 p.
Magnetospheric physics, Magnetotail, Storms and substorms, Space plasma physics, Magnetic reconnection
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-148331ISI: 000266406300038OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-148331DiVA: diva2:402104