Numerical Algorithm for Detecting Ion Diffusion Regions in the Geomagnetic Tail With Applications to MMS Tail Season 1 May to 30 September 2017

Academic Article


  • We present a numerical algorithm aimed at identifying ion diffusion regions (IDRs) in the geomagnetic tail, and test its applicability. We use 5 criteria applied in three stages. (i) Correlated reversals (within 90 s) of Vx and Bz (at least 2 nT about zero; GSM coordinates); (ii) Detection of Hall electric and magnetic field signatures; and (iii) strong (>10 mV/m) electric fields. While no criterion alone is necessary and sufficient, the approach does provide a robust, if conservative, list of IDRs. We use data from the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) spacecraft during a 5-month period (May 1 to September 30, 2017) of near-tail orbits during the declining phase of the solar cycle. We find 148 events satisfying step 1, 37 satisfying steps 1 and 2, and 17 satisfying all three, of which 12 are confirmed as IDRs. All IDRs were within the X-range [-24, -15] RE mainly on the dusk sector and the majority occurred during traversals of a tailward-moving X-line. 11 of 12 IDRs were on the dusk-side despite approximately equal residence time in both the pre- and post-midnight sectors (56.5% dusk vs 43.5% dawn). MMS could identify signatures of 4 quadrants of the Hall B-structure in 3 events and 3 quadrants in 7 of the remaining 12 confirmed IDRs identified. The events we report commonly display Vx reversals greater than 400 km/s in magnitude, normal magnetic field reversals often >10 nT in magnitude, maximum DC |E| which are often well in excess of the threshold for stage 3. Our results are then compared with the set of IDRs identified by visual examination from Cluster in the years 2000-2005.
  • Authors

  • Rogers, AJ
  • Farrugia, Charles
  • Torbert, RB
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • August 2019
  • Published In


  • IDRs
  • MMS observations
  • automated algorithm
  • magnetotail
  • reconnection
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 6487
  • End Page

  • 6503
  • Volume

  • 124
  • Issue

  • 8