Structure and Coalescence of Magnetopause Flux Ropes and Their Dependence on IMF Clock Angle: Three-Dimensional Global Hybrid Simulations
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Flux ropes are ubiquitous at Earth's magnetopause and play important roles in energy transport between the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere. In this study, structure and coalescence of the magnetopause flux ropes formed by multiple X line reconnection in cases with different southward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) clock angles are investigated by using three-dimensional global hybrid simulations. As the IMF clock angle decreases from 180 degrees, the axial direction of the flux ropes becomes tilted relative to the equatorial plane, the length of the flux ropes gradually increases, and core field within flux ropes is formed by the increase in the guide field. The flux ropes are formed mostly near the subsolar point and then move poleward toward cusps. The flux ropes can eventually enter the cusps, during which their helical structure collapses, their core field weakens gradually, and their axial length decreases. When the IMF clock angle is large (i.e., the IMF is predominantly southward), the flux ropes can coalesce and form new ones with larger diameter. The coalescence between flux ropes can occur both near the subsolar point when they are newly formed and away from the subsolar point (e.g., in the southern hemisphere) when they move toward cusps. However, when the IMF clock angle is small (<= 135 degrees), we do not find coalescence between flux ropes.