First results from ideal 2-D MHD reconstruction: magnetopause reconnection event seen by Cluster
- Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA
Abstract. We have applied a new reconstruction method (Sonnerup and Teh, 2008), based on the ideal single-fluid MHD equations in a steady-state, two-dimensional geometry, to a reconnection event observed by the Cluster-3 (C3) spacecraft on 5 July 2001, 06:23 UT, at the dawn-side Northern-Hemisphere magnetopause. The event has been previously studied by use of Grad-Shafranov (GS) reconstruction, performed in the deHoffmann-Teller frame, and using the assumption that the flow effects were either negligible or the flow was aligned with the magnetic field. Our new method allows the reconstruction to be performed in the frame of reference moving with the reconnection site (the X-line). In the event studied, this motion is tailward/equatorward at 140 km/s. The principal result of the study is that the new method functions well, generating a magnetic field map that is qualitatively similar to those obtained in the earlier GS-based reconstructions but now includes the reconnection site itself. In comparison with the earlier map by Hasegawa et al. (2004), our new map has a slightly improved ability (cc=0.979 versus cc=0.975) to predict the fields measured by the other three Cluster spacecraft, at distances from C3 ranging from 2132 km (C1) to 2646 km (C4). The new field map indicates the presence of a magnetic X-point, located some 5300 km tailward/equatorward of C3 at the time of its traversal of the magnetopause. In the immediate vicinity of the X-point, the ideal-MHD assumption breaks down, i.e. resistive and/or other effects should be included. We have circumvented this problem by an ad-hoc procedure in which we allow the axial part of convection electric field to be non-constant near the reconnection site. The new reconstruction method also provides a map of the velocity field, in which the inflow into the wedge of reconnected field lines and the plasma jet within it can be seen, and maps of the electric potential and of the electric current distribution. Even though the velocity map is expected to be inaccurate near the X-point, it provides high-quality predictions (cc=0.969) of the velocity components at points along the path of C1, some of which are close to the X-point; the predictions of density and pressure are less good. Except near the reconnection site, the new reconstruction provides a complete characterization, in unprecedented detail, of the entire dynamic plasma and field equilibrium, reconstructed from the C3 data. It represents our best prediction to date of what the actual configuration was like. But, since substantial time variations were present in the event, the recovered structure by necessity includes considerable time aliasing. The invariant direction used in the reconstruction, is found to agree, within 6°, with a recent theoretical prediction of the X-line orientation by Swisdak and Drake (2007).