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Transient, small-scale field-aligned currents in the plasma sheet boundary layer during storm time substorms.

  • Author(s): Nakamura, R
  • Sergeev, VA
  • Baumjohann, W
  • Plaschke, F
  • Magnes, W
  • Fischer, D
  • Varsani, A
  • Schmid, D
  • Nakamura, TKM
  • Russell, CT
  • Strangeway, RJ
  • Leinweber, HK
  • Le, G
  • Bromund, KR
  • Pollock, CJ
  • Giles, BL
  • Dorelli, JC
  • Gershman, DJ
  • Paterson, W
  • Avanov, LA
  • Fuselier, SA
  • Genestreti, K
  • Burch, JL
  • Torbert, RB
  • Chutter, M
  • Argall, MR
  • Anderson, BJ
  • Lindqvist, P-A
  • Marklund, GT
  • Khotyaintsev, YV
  • Mauk, BH
  • Cohen, IJ
  • Baker, DN
  • Jaynes, AN
  • Ergun, RE
  • Singer, HJ
  • Slavin, JA
  • Kepko, EL
  • Moore, TE
  • Lavraud, B
  • Coffey, V
  • Saito, Y
  • et al.

We report on field-aligned current observations by the four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft near the plasma sheet boundary layer (PSBL) during two major substorms on 23 June 2015. Small-scale field-aligned currents were found embedded in fluctuating PSBL flux tubes near the separatrix region. We resolve, for the first time, short-lived earthward (downward) intense field-aligned current sheets with thicknesses of a few tens of kilometers, which are well below the ion scale, on flux tubes moving equatorward/earthward during outward plasma sheet expansion. They coincide with upward field-aligned electron beams with energies of a few hundred eV. These electrons are most likely due to acceleration associated with a reconnection jet or high-energy ion beam-produced disturbances. The observations highlight coupling of multiscale processes in PSBL as a consequence of magnetotail reconnection.

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