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Magnetotail dipolarization and associated current systems observed by Cluster and Double Star

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • M. Volwerk
  • A. T. Y. Lui
  • M. Lester
  • A. P. Walsh
  • I. Alexeev
  • X. Cao
  • M. W. Dunlop
  • A. N. Fazakerley
  • L. Kistler
  • X. Lun
  • C. Mouikis
  • Z. Pu
  • C. Shen
  • J. K. Shi
  • M. G. G. T. Taylor
  • W. Baumjohann
  • R. Nakamura
  • A. Runov
  • Z. Vörös
  • T. L. Zhang
  • T. Takada
  • H. Rème
  • B. Klecker
  • C. M. Carr
Article numberA08S90
Journal publication date8/08/2008
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Number of pages13
Original languageEnglish


A dipolarization and its associated current systems are studied using Cluster, Double Star TC1, and ground-based observations. The Cluster spacecraft are located approximately 16 RE downtail near 0030 LT. The Double Star TC1 spacecraft is located more earthward at approximately 7 RE just before local midnight. Auroral observations by the Wideband Imaging Camera on the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration spacecraft are used to determine the onset times of substorms. It is shown that the magnetic phenomena at the earthward site of a magnetic reconfiguration region are governed by field-aligned currents, which in their turn generate auroral brightenings near the foot points of the spacecraft. It is also shown that the inward and outward motion of the dipolarization front near Cluster has a direct influence on the parallel plasma flow at TC1, indicating a piston mechanism. Just like a piston, the inward moving dipolarization at Cluster pushes in plasma along with the flux transport, which turns to parallel plasma flow at TC1. When the flow reverses at Cluster, i.e., outgoing flux transport, the plasma gets “sucked out” again, which is directly reflected in the plasma data from TC1.

Bibliographic note

Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.