Magnetic Reconnection in the Near Venusian Magnetotail

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Science  04 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6081, pp. 567-570
DOI: 10.1126/science.1217013

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Observations with the Venus Express magnetometer and low-energy particle detector revealed magnetic field and plasma behavior in the near-Venus wake that is symptomatic of magnetic reconnection, a process that occurs in Earth’s magnetotail but is not expected in the magnetotail of a nonmagnetized planet such as Venus. On 15 May 2006, the plasma flow in this region was toward the planet, and the magnetic field component transverse to the flow was reversed. Magnetic reconnection is a plasma process that changes the topology of the magnetic field and results in energy exchange between the magnetic field and the plasma. Thus, the energetics of the Venus magnetotail resembles that of the terrestrial tail, where energy is stored and later released from the magnetic field to the plasma.

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