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Magnetic reconnection in the magnetopause: global three-dimensional MHD simulation analysis of possible regions of occurrence

Grant number: 10/15730-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2011
Effective date (End): December 31, 2013
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Geosciences - Geophysics
Principal Investigator:Maria Virginia Alves
Grantee:Cristiane Loesch de Souza Costa
Home Institution: Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE). Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (Brasil). São José dos Campos , SP, Brazil


Space weather's main goal is to understand the physical processes behind the interaction between the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere and its response to it. Magnetic reconnection events supposedly occur during the solar wind interaction with Earth's magnetic field, changing Earth's magnetic field lines topology and facilitating the entry of solar wind energy in the magnetosphere. However, little is known about: the magnetic field topology and the magnetospheric plasma dynamic during these events; where in the magnetopause these events occur; and, the rate of plasma that enters the magnetosphere during these events. Recently, evidences of magnetic reconnection events have been observed in the magnetosphere's dayside and nightside. These evidences fueled the development of numerical and theoretical models, in order to complement the interpretation of these events observations. Global magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) three-dimensional (3D) models, for example, have been used successfully on interpreting and describing different phenomena in the solar corona, interplanetary medium and Earth's magnetosphere. In this work, the Space Weather Modeling Framework, a global 3D MHD model, will be used to simulate the interaction between the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere using boundary and initial conditions defined by observations. Our goal is to investigate magnetic reconnection regions in the magnetopause based on the magnetic field topology and intensity, and on the solar wind and magnetospheric plasma properties (velocity, temperature, pressure, etc). Our main goal is to study the overall plasma dynamic and Earth's magnetic field lines topology with emphasis on magnetic reconnection regions associated to magnetic storms.