Localized Reconnection in the Near Jovian Magnetotail

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Science  15 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5366, pp. 1061-1064
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5366.1061

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The oppositely directed magnetic field in the jovian magnetic tail is expected eventually to reconnect across the current sheet, allowing plasma produced deep inside the magnetosphere near Io's orbit to escape in the antisolar direction down the tail. The Galileo spacecraft found localized regions of strong northward and southward field components beyond about 50 jovian radii in the postmidnight, predawn sector of the jovian magnetosphere. These pockets of vertical magnetic fields can be stronger than the surrounding magnetotail and magnetodisk fields. They may result from episodic reconnection of patches of the near jovian magnetotail.

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