A statistical study on the shape and position of the magnetotail neutral sheet
Abstract. We study the average shape and position of the magnetotail neutral sheet based on magnetic field data obtained by Cluster, Geotail, TC-1, and THEMIS from the years 1995 to 2013. All data in the aberrated GSM (geocentric solar magnetospheric) coordinate system are normalized to the same solar wind pressure 2 nPa and downtail distance X ∼ −20RE. Our results show characteristics of the neutral sheet, as follows. (1) The neutral sheet assumes a greater degree of curve in the YZ cross section when the dipole tilt increases, the Earth dipole tilt angle affects the neutral sheet configuration not only in the YZ cross section but also in the XY cross section, and the neutral sheet assumes a more significant degree of tilt in the XY cross section when the dipole tilt increases. (2) Counterclockwise twisting of the neutral sheet with 3.10° is observed, looking along the downtail direction, for the positive interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) BY with a value of 3 to 8 nT, and clockwise twisting of the neutral sheet with 3.37° for the negative IMF BY with a value of −8 to −3 nT, and a northward IMF can result in a greater twisting of the near-tail neutral sheet than southward. The above results can be a reference to the neutral sheet model. Our large database also shows that the displaced ellipse model is effective to study the average shape of the neutral sheet with proper parameters when the dipole tilt angle is larger (less) than 10° (−10° ).