Five spacecraft observations of oppositely directed exhaust jets from a magnetic reconnection X-line extending > 4.26 × 106 km in the solar wind at 1 AU

Jack T. Gosling, S. Eriksson, L. M. Blush, T. D. Phan, J. G. Luhmann, D. J. McComas, R. M. Skoug, M. H. Acuna, C. T. Russell, K. D. Simunac

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Abstract

Observations of oppositely directed plasma jets within an extended, bifurcated current sheet in the solar wind by a flotilla of five well-separated spacecraft (STEREO A and B, ACE, Wind and Geotail) on 11 March 2007 demonstrate that magnetic reconnection X-lines in the solar wind can extend to distances at least as great as 4.26 × 106 km (0.0284 AU) in the presence of a significant and variable guide field. The observations also indicate that reconnection in the solar wind can persist for at least 5 hours and 20 minutes. These minimum values are the largest yet obtained from direct measurements of reconnection exhaust flows in a space plasma. Both dynamic processes in the reconnection region and the spherical expansion of the solar wind probably contribute to the production of long X-lines in the solar wind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL20108
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume34
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 28 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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    Gosling, J. T., Eriksson, S., Blush, L. M., Phan, T. D., Luhmann, J. G., McComas, D. J., Skoug, R. M., Acuna, M. H., Russell, C. T., & Simunac, K. D. (2007). Five spacecraft observations of oppositely directed exhaust jets from a magnetic reconnection X-line extending > 4.26 × 106 km in the solar wind at 1 AU. Geophysical Research Letters, 34(20), [L20108]. https://doi.org/10.1029/2007GL031492