Field dipolarization in Saturn's magnetotail with planetward ion flows and energetic particle flow bursts: Evidence of quasi-steady reconnection

C. M. Jackman*, M. F. Thomsen, D. G. Mitchell, N. Sergis, C. S. Arridge, M. Felici, S. V. Badman, C. Paranicas, X. Jia, G. B. Hospodarksy, M. Andriopoulou, K. K. Khurana, A. W. Smith, M. K. Dougherty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

We present a case study of an event from 20 August (day 232) of 2006, when the Cassini spacecraft was sampling the region near 32 RS and 22-h LT in Saturn's magnetotail. Cassini observed a strong northward-to-southward turning of the magnetic field, which is interpreted as the signature of dipolarization of the field as seen by the spacecraft planetward of the reconnection X line. This event was accompanied by very rapid (up to ~1500-km-s-1) thermal plasma flow toward the planet. At energies above 28-keV, energetic hydrogen and oxygen ion flow bursts were observed to stream planetward from a reconnection site downtail of the spacecraft. Meanwhile, a strong field-aligned beam of energetic hydrogen was also observed to stream tailward, likely from an ionospheric source. Saturn kilometric radiation emissions were stimulated shortly after the observation of the dipolarization. We discuss the field, plasma, energetic particle, and radio observations in the context of the impact this reconnection event had on global magnetospheric dynamics. Key Points Rare observation of strong planetward flow following Saturn tail reconnection Ion flows at speeds of up to 1500-km/s observed, indicating energetic event Data imply quasi-steady Vasyliunas-type reconnection beyond 32 RS

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3603-3617
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Volume120
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

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