Tail reconnection in the global magnetospheric context: Vlasiator first results

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Minna Palmroth
  • Sanni Hoilijoki
  • Liisa Juusola
  • Tuija Pulkkinen

  • Heli Hietala
  • Yann Pfau-Kempf
  • Urs Ganse
  • Sebastian Von Alfthan
  • Rami Vainio
  • Michael Hesse

Research units

  • University of Helsinki
  • Finnish Meteorological Institute
  • University of California at Los Angeles
  • CSC - IT Center for Science Ltd.
  • University of Turku
  • University of Bergen


The key dynamics of the magnetotail have been researched for decades and have been associated with either three-dimensional (3-D) plasma instabilities and/or magnetic reconnection. We apply a global hybrid-Vlasov code, Vlasiator, to simulate reconnection self-consistently in the ion kinetic scales in the noon-midnight meridional plane, including both dayside and nightside reconnection regions within the same simulation box. Our simulation represents a numerical experiment, which turns off the 3-D instabilities but models ion-scale reconnection physically accurately in 2-D. We demonstrate that many known tail dynamics are present in the simulation without a full description of 3-D instabilities or without the detailed description of the electrons. While multiple reconnection sites can coexist in the plasma sheet, one reconnection point can start a global reconfiguration process, in which magnetic field lines become detached and a plasmoid is released. As the simulation run features temporally steady solar wind input, this global reconfiguration is not associated with sudden changes in the solar wind. Further, we show that lobe density variations originating from dayside reconnection may play an important role in stabilising tail reconnection.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1269-1274
Number of pages6
JournalAnnales Geophysicae
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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