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What controls the local time extent of flux transfer events?

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/02/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number2
Volume121
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)1391-1401
<mark>State</mark>Published
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Flux transfer events (FTEs) are the manifestation of bursty and/or patchy magnetic reconnection at the magnetopause. We compare two sequences of the ionospheric signatures of flux transfer events observed in global auroral imagery and coherent ionospheric radar measurements. Both sequences were observed during very similar seasonal and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) conditions, though with differing solar wind speed. A key observation is that the signatures differed considerably in their local time extent. The two periods are 26 August 1998, when the IMF had components BZ≈-10 nT and BY≈9 nT and the solar wind speed was VX≈650 km s-1, and 31 August 2005, IMF BZ≈-7 nT, BY≈17 nT, and VX≈380 km s-1. In the first case, the reconnection rate was estimated to be near 160 kV, and the FTE signatures extended across at least 7 h of magnetic local time (MLT) of the dayside polar cap boundary. In the second, a reconnection rate close to 80 kV was estimated, and the FTEs had a MLT extent of roughly 2 h. We discuss the ramifications of these differences for solar wind-magnetosphere coupling.