Testing the magnetotail configuration based on observations of low-altitude isotropic boundaries during quiet times

R. Ilie, N. Ganushkina, G. Toth, S. Dubyagin, M. W. Liemohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We investigate the configuration of the geomagnetic field on the nightside magnetosphere during a quiet time interval based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Polar Orbiting Environment Satellites Medium Energy Proton and Electron Detector (NOAA/POES MEPED) measurements in combination with numerical simulations of the global terrestrial magnetosphere using the Space Weather Modeling Framework. Measurements from the NOAA/POES MEPED low-altitude data sets provide the locations of isotropic boundaries; those are used to extract information regarding the field structure in the source regions in the magnetosphere. In order to evaluate adiabaticity and mapping accuracy, which is mainly controlled by the ratio between the radius of curvature and the particle's Larmor radius, we tested the threshold condition for strong pitch angle scattering based on the MHD magnetic field solution. The magnetic field configuration is represented by the model with high accuracy, as suggested by the high correlation coefficients and very low normalized root-mean-square errors between the observed and the modeled magnetic field. The scattering criterion, based on the values of k = Rc/ρ ratio at the crossings of magnetic field lines, associated with isotropic boundaries, with the minimum B surface, predicts a critical value of kCR ∼ 33. This means that, in the absence of other scattering mechanisms, the strong pitch angle scattering takes place whenever the Larmor radius is ∼33 times smaller than the radius of curvature of the magnetic field, as predicted by the Space Weather Modeling Framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10557-10573
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2015


  • isotropic boundaries
  • magnetic field mapping
  • modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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