Cluster observations in the magnetotail during sudden and quasiperiodic solar wind variations

K. H. Kim, C. A. Cattell, D. H. Lee, A. Balogh, E. Lucek, M. Andre, Y. Khotyaintsev, H. Rème

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A clear bipolar (negative/positive) signature in the Ey component was observed by three spacecraft on Cluster in the magnetotail during the passage of a solar wind discontinuity on October 11, 2001 (day 284), which caused a sudden commencement (se) on the ground. The positive Ey perturbation was accompanied by the northward/dawnward plasma flow and the Bx enhancement, which is the dominant magnetic field component. The estimated Ey from the plasma flow and magnetic field was in good agreement with the observed Ey Thus the positive Ey perturbation can be interpreted to be the signature of inward plasma motions, corresponding to the compression of the magnetopause. During the interval of the negative Ey perturbation, the magnetic field increase was mainly due to the increase in By and Bz, not in Bx. Unlike the positive Ey perturbation, the negative Ey perturbation was not consistent with the estimated Ey Therefore the negative Ey signature does not seems to have a direct connection with plasma motions. The observed field and flow variations may be associated with a deformation of the magnetotail due to the solar wind discontinuity moving tailward. The direction and shape of the sc front propagating tailward can be confirmed by three spacecraft of Cluster. We also observed quasiperiodic geomagnetic perturbations at the low-latitude ground station Kakioka (L = 1.25) following the sc event. They were highly correlated with the magnetic field perturbations at Cluster in the magnetotail (Xgse = ∼12 R E). We show that the source of these perturbations is the quasiperiodic solar wind variations superposed on the increased solar wind pressure behind the interplanetary discontinuity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA04219
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue numberA4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Magnetotail
  • Solar wind pressure
  • Sudden commencement


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