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Supercorotating return flow from reconnection in Saturn's magnetotail

Masters, Adam and Thomsen, M.F. and Badman, S.V. and Arridge, Chris S. and Young, D.T. and Coates, Andrew J. and Dougherty, M.K. (2011) Supercorotating return flow from reconnection in Saturn's magnetotail. Geophysical Research Letters 38 , ISSN 0094-8276.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010GL046149

Abstract

Detecting plasma dynamics in Saturn's magnetosphere is essential for understanding energy flow through the system. It has been proposed that both the Dungey and Vasyliunas cycles operate at Saturn, and the competition between these cycles has been debated. We examine data taken by the Cassini spacecraft in Saturn's post-dawn magnetosphere, similar to 17.5 Saturn radii from the planet, and identify an example of return flow from magnetotail reconnection. The flow included water group ions and had elevated ion temperatures (of order 1 keV), consistent with Vasyliunas cycle return flow. The flow was also supercorotating (similar to 200 km s(-1), similar to 120% of corotation), which is highly atypical of Saturn's outer magnetosphere. Our results suggest that return flows are time-variable, and our results concerning Dungey cycle return flows are inconclusive. We propose that supercorotating flows in Saturn's dawn magnetosphere strongly influence the current system that is responsible for the planet's main auroral emission. Citation: Masters, A., M. F. Thomsen, S. V. Badman, C. S. Arridge, D. T. Young, A. J. Coates, and M. K. Dougherty (2011), Supercorotating return flow from reconnection in Saturn's magnetotail, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L03103, doi: 10.1029/2010GL046149.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Earth and Planetary Sciences > UCL/Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2011 09:27
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:20
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/3670

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