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In this work, we demonstrate how to track magnetic separators in three-dimensional simulated magnetic fields with or without magnetic nulls, apply these techniques to enhance our understanding of reconnection at the magnetopause. We present three methods for locating magnetic separators and apply them to 3-D resistive MHD simulations of the Earth's magnetosphere using the Block-Adaptive-Tree Solar-wind Roe-type Upwind Scheme code. The techniques for finding separators and determining the reconnection rate are insensitive to interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) clock angle and can in principle be applied to any magnetospheric model. Moreover, the techniques have a number of advantages over prior separator finding techniques applied to the magnetosphere. The present work examines cases of high and low resistivity for two clock angles. We go beyond previous work examine the separator during Flux Transfer Events (FTEs). Our analysis of reconnection on the magnetopause yields a number of interesting conclusions: Reconnection occurs all along the separator even during predominately northward IMF cases. Multiple separators form in low-resistivity conditions, and in the region of an FTE the separator splits into distinct branches. Moreover, the local contribution to the reconnection rate, as determined by the local parallel electric field, drops in the vicinity of the FTE with respect to the value when there are none.

Source Citation

Glocer, A., Dorelli, J., Toth, G., Komar, C. M., & Cassak, P. A. (2016). Separator Reconnection At The Magnetopause For Predominantly Northward And Southward Imf: Techniques And Results. Journal Of Geophysical Research - Space Physics, 121(1), 140-156.