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Two fundamentally different drivers of dipolarizations at Saturn

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Z. H. Yao
  • D. Grodent
  • L. C. Ray
  • I. J. Rae
  • A. J. Coates
  • Z. Y. Pu
  • A. T. Lui
  • A. Radioti
  • J. H. Waite
  • Geraint. H. Jones
  • R. L. Guo
  • W. R. Dunn
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>04/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number4
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)4348-4356
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date25/04/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Solar wind energy is transferred to planetary magnetospheres via magnetopause reconnection, driving magnetospheric dynamics. At giant planets like Saturn, rapid rotation and internal plasma sources from geologically active moons also drive magnetospheric dynamics. In both cases, magnetic energy is regularly released via magnetospheric current redistributions that usually result in a change of the global magnetic field topology (named substorm dipolarization at Earth). Besides this substorm dipolarization, the front boundary of the reconnection outflow can also lead to a strong but localized magnetic dipolarization, named a reconnection front. The enhancement of the north-south magnetic component is usually adopted as the indicator of magnetic dipolarization. However, this field increase alone cannot distinguish between the two fundamentally different mechanisms. Using measurements from Cassini, we present multiple cases whereby we identify the two distinct types of dipolarization at Saturn. A comparison between Earth and Saturn provides new insight to revealing the energy dissipation in planetary magnetospheres.