Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Cassini in situ observations of long-duration m...

Associated organisational unit

Electronic data

  • csa_nphys_diffusionregion_rep

    Accepted author manuscript, 7 MB, PDF-document

    Available under license: CC BY: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Links

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Cassini in situ observations of long-duration magnetic reconnection in Saturn’s magnetotail

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
  • Christopher Stephen Arridge
  • J.P. Eastwood
  • Caitriona M. Jackman
  • Gang-Kai Poh
  • J. A. Slavin
  • M. F. Thomsen
  • Nicolas André
  • X. Jia
  • A. Kidder
  • L. Lamy
  • Aikaterini Radioti
  • Dan Reisenfeld
  • Nicholas Sergis
  • M. Volwerk
  • A.P. Walsh
  • P. Zarka
  • A. J. Coates
  • M. K. Dougherty
Close
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Physics
Issue number3
Volume12
Number of pages4
Pages (from-to)268-271
<mark>State</mark>Published
Early online date30/11/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process in solar system and astrophysical plasmas, through which stored magnetic energy associated with current sheets is converted into thermal, kinetic and wave energy. Magnetic reconnection is also thought to be a key process involved in shedding internally produced plasma from the giant magnetospheres at Jupiter and Saturn through topological reconfiguration of the magnetic field. The region where magnetic fields reconnect is known as the diffusion region and in this letter we report on the first encounter of the Cassini spacecraft with a diffusion region in Saturn’s magnetotail. The data also show evidence of magnetic reconnection over a period of 19 h revealing that reconnection can, in fact, act for prolonged intervals in a rapidly rotating magnetosphere. We show that reconnection can be a significant pathway for internal plasma loss at Saturn. This counters the view of reconnection as a transient method of internal plasma loss at Saturn. These results, although directly relating to the magnetosphere of Saturn, have applications in the understanding of other rapidly rotating magnetospheres, including that of Jupiter and other astrophysical bodies.