Articles | Volume 24, issue 1
07 Mar 2006
 | 07 Mar 2006

Rotation of the magnetic field in Earth's magnetosheath by bulk magnetosheath plasma flow

M. Longmore, S. J. Schwartz, and E. A. Lucek

Abstract. Orientations of the observed magnetic field in Earth's dayside magnetosheath are compared with the predicted field line-draping pattern from the Kobel and Flückiger static magnetic field model. A rotation of the overall magnetosheath draping pattern with respect to the model prediction is observed. For an earthward Parker spiral, the sense of the rotation is typically clockwise for northward IMF and anticlockwise for southward IMF. The rotation is consistent with an interpretation which considers the twisting of the magnetic field lines by the bulk plasma flow in the magnetosheath. Histogram distributions describing the differences between the observed and model magnetic field clock angles in the magnetosheath confirm the existence and sense of the rotation. A statistically significant mean value of the IMF rotation in the range 5°-30° is observed in all regions of the magnetosheath, for all IMF directions, although the associated standard deviation implies large uncertainty in the determination of an accurate value for the rotation. We discuss the role of field-flow coupling effects and dayside merging on field line draping in the magnetosheath in view of the evidence presented here and that which has previously been reported by Kaymaz et al. (1992).