• Structure of reconnection layers in the magnetosphere

      Lin, Yu; Lee, Lou-Chuang; Hawkins, J. G.; Sentman, D. D.; Smith, R. W.; Swift, D. W. (1993)
      Magnetic reconnection can lead to the formation of observed boundary layers at the dayside magnetopause and in the nightside plasma sheet of the magnetosphere. In this thesis, the structure of these reconnection layers is studied by solving the one-dimensional Riemann problem for the evolution of a current sheet. Analytical method, resistive MHD simulations, and hybrid simulations are used. Based on the ideal MHD formulation, rotational discontinuities, slow shocks, slow expansion waves, and contact discontinuity are present in the dayside reconnection layer. Fast expansion waves are also present in the solution of the Riemann problem, but they quickly propagate out of the reconnection layer. Our study provides a coherent picture for the transition from the reconnection layer with two slow shocks in Petschek's model to the reconnection layer with a rotational discontinuity and a slow expansion wave in Levy et al.'s model. In the resistive MHD simulations, the rotational discontinuities are replaced by intermediate shocks or time-dependent intermediate shocks. In the hybrid simulations, the time-dependent intermediate shock quickly evolves to a steady rotational discontinuity, and the contact discontinuity does not exist. The magnetotail reconnection layer consists of two slow shocks. Hybrid simulations of slow shocks indicate that there exists a critical number, $M\sb{c}$, such that for slow shocks with an intermediate Mach number $M\sb{I} \ge M\sb{c}$, a large-amplitude rotational wavetrain is present in the downstream region. For slow shocks with $M\sb{I} < M\sb{c}$, the downstream wavetrain does not exist. Chaotic ion orbits in the downstream wave provide an efficient mechanism for ion heating and wave damping and explain the existence of the critical number $M\sb{c}$ in slow shocks.