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Three-dimensional hybrid simulation of magnetosheath reconnection under northward and southward interplanetary magnetic field


Pang, Y.
Lin, Y.
Deng, X. H.
Wang, X. Y.
Tan, B.


A three-dimensional (3-D) global hybrid simulation is carried out for the generation and structure of magnetic reconnection in the magnetosheath because of the interaction of an interplanetary tangential discontinuity (TD) with the bow shock and magnetosphere. Runs are performed for solar wind TDs possessing different polarization senses of magnetic field (north-to-south or south-to-north from the leading to trailing side of the incident TD) and initial half-widths. Two-step compression processes are shown in the transmitted TD, including a "shock compression," as the TD passes through the shock followed by a subsequent " convective compression" while the TD is moving in the magnetosheath toward the magnetopause. In cases with a relatively thin solar wind TD, 3-D patchy reconnection is initiated in the transmitted TD, forming magnetosheath flux ropes. Differences between these flux ropes and those due to magnetopause reconnection are discussed. Multiple components of ion particles are present in the velocity distribution in the magnetosheath merging, accompanied by ion heating. For cases with a relatively wide initial TD, a dominant single X line appears in the subsolar magnetosheath after the transmitted TD is narrowed through the two-step compression process. Specifically, in the cases with a south-to-north field rotation across an incident thin TD, the magnetosheath flux ropes could re-reconnect with the closed geomagnetic field lines to generate a closed field line region with mixed magnetosheath and magnetospheric plasmas, which may contribute to the transport of solar wind plasma into the magnetospheric boundary layer.