Applying Magnetic Curvature to MMS Data to Identify Thin Current Sheets Relative to Tail Reconnection.

Academic Article


  • Thin current sheets (TCSs) have been postulated to be a necessary precondition for reconnection onset. Magnetic reconnection X-lines in the magnetotail have been observed to be more common duskward of midnight. We take advantage of the MMS tetrahedral formation during the 2017-2020 MMS tail seasons to calculate the thickness of the cross-tail neutral sheet relative to ion gyroradius. While a similar technique was applied to Cluster data, current sheet thickness over a broader range of radial distances has not been robustly explored before this study. We compare our analysis to recent theories regarding mechanisms of tail current sheet thinning and to recent simulations. We find MMS spent more than twice as long in ion-scale TCSs in the pre-midnight sector than post-midnight, despite nearly even plasma sheet dwell time. The dawn-dusk asymmetry in the distribution of Ion Diffusion Regions, as previously reported in relation to regions of TCSs, is also analyzed.
  • Authors

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

    Publication Date

  • January 2023
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • e2022JA030577
  • Volume

  • 128
  • Issue

  • 1