Direct observation of closed magnetic flux trapped in the high-latitude magnetosphere

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Science  19 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6216, pp. 1506-1510
DOI: 10.1126/science.1257377

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How trans-polar arcs transpire above

Auroral arcs within the polar cap are a visual marvel, and they may also indicate trapped energetic plasma in Earth's magnetosphere. Fear et al. combined simultaneous observations of both the aurora and signatures of the trapped plasma in Earth's magnetotail to demonstrate one recent instance of this phenomenon. Some researchers have proposed that flux generated by magnetic reconnection might get trapped in the magnetotail lobe, but the standard magnetosphere model does not predict it. This study confirms the idea by taking advantage of a period when the interplanetary magnetic field points northward, a state not yet well understood.

Science, this issue p. 1506