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Compression of the Earth's magnetotail by interplanetary shocks directly drives transient magnetic flux closure

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • B. Hubert
  • M. Palmroth
  • T. V. Laitinen
  • P. Janhunen
  • S. E. Milan
  • A. Grocott
  • S. W. H. Cowley
  • T. Pulkkinen
  • J.-c. Gérard
Article numberL10105
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/05/2006
<mark>Journal</mark>Geophysical Research Letters
Issue number10
Number of pages4
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We use a novel method to evaluate the global opening and closure of magnetic flux in the terrestrial system, and to analyse two interplanetary shock passages that occurred during magnetically quiet periods. We find that, even under these quiet conditions, where the amount of open flux was already low, the compression of the magnetotail by the shocks still created intense but short-lived bursts of flux closure reaching ∼130 kV, comparable to values obtained shortly after a substorm onset, although no expansion phase developed. The results, supported by a global MHD simulation of the space environment, point to a trigger mechanism of flux closure directly driven by the solar wind compression, independent of the usual substorm expansion phase process.

Bibliographic note

Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.