An analysis of magnetic reconnection events and their associated auroral enhancements

The article “An analysis of magnetic reconnection events and their associated auroral enhancements” was recently accepted to the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Science. The article, for which Nathan was the lead author, describes how small scale processes in the earth’s magnetotail, called magnetic reconnection, is associated with enhancements of the aurora.


An analysis of simultaneous reconnection events in the near-Earth magnetotail and enhancements in the aurora is undertaken. Exploiting magnetospheric data from the Geotail, Cluster, and Double Star missions, along with auroral images from the IMAGE and Polar missions, the relationship between a reconnection signature and its auroral counterpart is explored. In this study of 59 suitable reconnection events, we find that 43 demonstrate a clear coincidence of reconnection and auroral enhancement. The magnetic local time (MLT) locations of these 43 reconnection events are generally located within ±1 h MLT of the associated auroral enhancement. A positive correlation coefficient of 0.8 between the two MLT locations is found. The enhancements are localized and short-lived (τ≤10 min) and are as likely to occur during the substorm process as in isolation of a substorm. No significant dependence of the reconnection or auroral enhancement location on the dusk-dawn components of the solar wind velocity (Vy), IMF (By) or local By or Vy, as measured by the reconnection-detecting spacecraft, is found.

The article is open source and free to download from the publisher’s site.