Articles | Volume 32, issue 3
Ann. Geophys., 32, 239–248, 2014

Special issue: Dynamical processes in space plasmas II

Ann. Geophys., 32, 239–248, 2014

Regular paper 14 Mar 2014

Regular paper | 14 Mar 2014

Evidence of transient reconnection in the outflow jet of primary reconnection site

R. Wang1, R. Nakamura2, T. Zhang2, A. Du1, W. Baumjohann2, Q. Lu3, and A. N. Fazakerley4 R. Wang et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Ionospheric Environment, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 2Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz, Austria
  • 3Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China
  • 4Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Surrey, UK

Abstract. The precise mechanism for the formation of magnetic islands in the magnetotail and the subsequent evolution are still controversial. New investigations have provided the first observational evidence of secondary reconnection in the earthward outflow jet of primary reconnection in the magnetotail. The secondary reconnection takes place 38 cpi earthward from the primary reconnection site and results in the birth of a magnetic island observed. This generation mechanism is different from the widely used model of multiple reconnection X-lines. The duration of the secondary reconnection was approximate one ion gyration period (5 s). The observations resemble recent numerical simulations where magnetic reconnection could spontaneously and transiently happen in the outflow jet, called secondary reconnection, which was used to explain the formation of the dipolarization fronts. Coincidentally, another magnetic island moving earthward passed through three satellites successively. By this chance we find the magnetic island was accelerated towards Earth with an acceleration of about 9 km s−2 at −19 RE in the magnetotail.