EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Density of Reconnecting Structures Downstream of Earth’s Bow Shock

Imogen Gingell1, Harald Kucharek2, Steven J. Schwartz3, Charles Farrugia2, Karlheinz J. Trattner3, Robert E. Ergun3, Barbara L. Giles4, and Robert J. Strangeway5
Imogen Gingell et al.
  • 1University of Southampton, Southampton, UK (
  • 2University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA
  • 3Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Colorado University Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 4NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 5IGPP, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Actively reconnecting, thin current sheets have been observed both within the transition region of Earth’s bow shock and far downstream into the magnetosheath. Irrespective of whether these structures arise due to shock processes or turbulent dissipation, they are expected to contribute to particle heating and acceleration within their respective regions. In order to assess the integrated impact of the population of thin current sheets on observations of heating and acceleration, we examine shock crossings and extended magnetosheath intervals recorded by the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS). For each interval we quantify the number density of reconnecting current sheets in the magnetosheath. We estimate the volume associated with each time interval by considering the three-dimensional cone over which Alfvén and magnetoacoustic waves can propagate within the time interval. We then estimate the number of reconnecting sheets within that volume by comparing heating measures observed within individual sheet crossings with the observed change in those properties across the full interval. Given several extended magnetosheath intervals observed by MMS, we perform our analysis for different locations in the magnetosheath and for different solar wind conditions. In this way we determine the dependence of the number density of thin current sheets on shock orientation (i.e. quasi-parallel or quasi-perpendicular), solar wind transients, and incident plasma parameters.

How to cite: Gingell, I., Kucharek, H., Schwartz, S. J., Farrugia, C., Trattner, K. J., Ergun, R. E., Giles, B. L., and Strangeway, R. J.: The Density of Reconnecting Structures Downstream of Earth’s Bow Shock, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4755,, 2021.

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