Coalescence of Macroscopic Flux Ropes at the Subsolar Magnetopause: Magnetospheric Multiscale Observations
AbstractWe report unambiguous in situ observation of the coalescence of macroscopic flux ropes by the magnetospheric multiscale (MMS) mission. Two coalescing flux ropes with sizes of ∼1 RE were identified at the subsolar magnetopause by the occurrence of an asymmetric quadrupolar signature in the normal component of the magnetic field measured by the MMS spacecraft. An electron diffusion region (EDR) with a width of four local electron inertial lengths was embedded within the merging current sheet. The EDR was characterized by an intense parallel electric field, significant energy dissipation, and suprathermal electrons. Although the electrons were organized by a large guide field, the small observed electron pressure nongyrotropy may be sufficient to support a significant fraction of the parallel electric field within the EDR. Since the flux ropes are observed in the exhaust region, we suggest that secondary EDRs are formed further downstream of the primary reconnection line between the magnetosheath and magnetospheric fields.